The communist-led armed insurgency in the Philippines began with the founding of the Communist Party of the Philippines in December 1968 and the establishment of its armed wing, the New People's Army, in March 1969. If we take the founding of the CPP in 1968 as the official start of the insurgency, then this year marks the 50th year of the armed conflict, with no clear indication that it would end soon.
How to bring about a definitive end to the rebellion after the total collapse of the formal peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front?
AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr. suggested recently the creation of an inter-agency task force to deal with the communist led-rebellion. The task force would consist of the military, the police, civilian agencies and other stakeholders who will implement what has been called the "whole-of-government strategy" in quashing the rebellion.
The AFP proposal has obtained the support of Interior Officer in Charge Eduardo M. Año, also a former AFP Chief of Staff, who now says that the leftist insurgency is more of a governance than a police or military problem.
“The government is cognizant that effectively ending insurgency requires not only police and military response but necessitates a triad of development, governance and security efforts,” Ano pointed out. “Insurgency is rooted in poverty, inequality and grievances that could be addressed by respective mandates of various government institutions. We have all the mechanisms to face these issues but all government agencies have to perform our roles in a concerted manner,” Año added.
This is not exactly a novel idea, and the total approach has been around since the Marcos era, if we're not mistaken.
The problem, from where we sit, is that the military/police component has always assumed the central role, relegating the economic and social development components to the sidelines.
If the purely military approach has failed, then the socio-economic dimension should definitely be given higher priority even as the AFP and the PNP should perform their mandates and maintain their security and peacekeeping functions. The anti-poverty programs should be expanded to cover more areas to drain the pond that feeds the rebellion.