FINAL PUSH. AFP Chief, Gen. Andres Centino (center), holds a command conference with chiefs of the military's major services and unified commands in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City on Tuesday (Jan. 25, 2022). He urged officials to sustain the AFP's momentum in the fight against communist terrorism to end local armed conflict before the end of President Rodrigo Duterte's term in June. (Photo courtesy of AFP)

MANILA – Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief, Gen. Andres Centino, has directed all military commanders to ensure that the local communist insurgency threat is eliminated before President Rodrigo R. Duterte's term ends in June.

Centino issued the directive during Tuesday's command conference at the AFP headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City attended by all chiefs of major services and unified commands.

“As your Chief of Staff, I am taking the lead in this final push of our campaign. I enjoin everyone to maintain our momentum, sustain our gains, and remain victorious. Let us finish the local armed conflict within the President’s term. As the Armed Forces of the Filipino people, we shall not fail them in their desire of having a peaceful and secure society,” he said in a statement Tuesday night.

Centino also directed all AFP commanders to intensify their operations with a sense of urgency and focus on defeating the remaining local threat groups through intelligence-driven combat operations.

He particularly ordered the redeployment of AFP forces to where the communist group is based, launch decisive engagements aimed at destroying the enemies’ will to fight, cut off their source of funds and logistics support, and hit the enemy leadership, which is considered their center of gravity, hard.

Citing the AFP's accomplishments for 2021, he said the military had neutralized 43 top New People's Army (NPA) leaders and Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Central Committee members.

These are Jorge Madlos, Menandro Villanueva, Pedro Codaste, Eddie Genelsa, and Maria Loida Tuso Magpatoc – all members of the CPP Politburo Committee.

Likewise, 10 CPP-NPA guerilla fronts have been dismantled while more than 3,000 party and underground organization members and supporters have withdrawn their membership from the CPP and the National Democratic Front.

In its focused military operations against local terrorist groups, the AFP reported the surrender of 144 members of the Abu Sayyaf Group, 41 members of Dawlah Islamiya, and 249 members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.

Centino also ordered all AFP commanders to actively support the Commission on Elections, Philippine National Police, and Department of the Interior and Local Government in maintaining peace and order and security during the election period.

“Let us once again be reminded to isolate ourselves from partisan politics so we can focus on our noble mandate of protecting the people and the State. We must avoid participating in any partisan political activities, except to exercise our individual right to vote,” he said.

On the AFP’s humanitarian assistance and disaster response (HADR) operations, Centino directed the AFP engineering units to lead in rehabilitation efforts so that regular combatant forces can shift their focus on internal security operations.

He likewise ordered the unified commands to maximize the use and deployment of reserve units in the conduct of HADR operations.

Centino also reminded officials to increase operational efficiency, continue capability development, optimize the use of resources, and advance professionalism and meritocracy in the military. (PNA)