Covid-19 pandemic affects AFP's drive to end insurgency

By Teofilo Garcia, Jr.

August 18, 2020, 8:08 pm

ZAMBOANGA CITY – The coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic has affected the ability of the Armed Forces of the Philippines' (AFP) to implement the "whole-of-the- nation-approach" in ending local armed conflicts in the countryside.

Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay, AFP chief-of-staff, disclosed Tuesday here, pointing out that “10 to 15 percent of our budget” was realigned to support the national government’s response in addressing the pandemic.

Gapay led the installation of Maj. Gen. Corleto Vinluan, Sr., as the new commander of Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom).

Vinluan, who is the 12th Westmincom chief, replaced Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, who was appointed as the 62nd commander of the Philippine Army.

Gapay said the realigned budget would have been for the socio-economic programs of the AFP in addressing local armed conflicts brought by the communist insurgency.

Instead, he said the allocation is being used to buy personnel protective types of equipment, relief goods, and the social amelioration program (SAP) for poor families affected by the health crisis.

Despite this, Gapay said the AFP is "making use" of its available resources to remain effective in addressing security concerns.

He also clarified that AFP is the only government branch to be affected, as all other agencies have also realigned their budgets to support the national government's drive against Covid-19.

Earlier, Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo, the AFP spokesperson, said the government's whole-of-nation-approach in ending local communist armed conflicts is gaining ground with the neutralization of some 10,938 members of the New People's Army and their supporters since the issuance of Executive Order No. 70.

President Rodrigo Duterte's EO No. 70, issued in December 2018, institutionalized the "whole-of-nation" approach in ending local communist armed conflicts. It established a national task force that now leads in institutionalizing a national peace framework in addressing the communist insurgency. (PNA)