“We are going to do something new or innovative to finish this problem (of terrorism) once and for all,” Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said at the sidelines of AFP New Year’s Call at Camp Aguinaldo on Monday.
“We won’t publicise what we’ll do. We’ll just do it because our enemies might learn of the operational plans,” he said.
The military is looking at decreasing terrorist groups such as the Abu Sayyaf, Maute Group, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, and other groups into a “minimal strength” in the next six months.
If the target won’t be met, then it will be extended, Lorenzana said.
The military’s new campaign plan, Development Support and Security Plan Kapayapaan (Peace), was launched last week at a high-level command conference presided by the defence secretary. It replaced the Internal Peace Security Plan Bayanihan (communal work) that expired last December 31.
“We will just have to do the best we can, or we can combine military and developmental projects so we can stop them from doing what they are doing,” Lorenzana said.
51 battalions deployed to fight terrorists
Military chief General Eduardo Año said terrorist groups like the Abu Sayyaf, will be accorded with “the full force of the Armed Forces.”
He said that 51 battalions have been deployed to fight terrorist groups in the Western Mindanao Command area. This covers the whole Western Mindanao and parts of Central Mindanao.
“Not in our history that there has been that massive deployment of our troops… We do not want to prolong the fighting there. We want it to end,” Año said.
The AFP chief said it is the Maute Group that needs to be watched because of their plans to conduct terrorist activities in cities, but noted all groups have their own peculiarities.
“The Abu Sayyaf has been engaged in kidnapping, while the Maute Group wants to be recognized by ISIS that’s why it’s been involved in bombings. Other groups like the Ansar Khilafah Philippines are into a combination of extortion and terrorism. But for us, we need to keep a close watch on Maute because it plans on conducting terrorist activities in cities,” he said.
The new security plan “Kapayapaan,” Año said, is a “sequel” of the “Bayanihan” strategy which focused on non-combat dimension in dealing with internal security threats.
“The Kapayaapan plan includes the challenges of the government and development. So we are not concentrating on the security aspect but also focusing on how we can attain a peaceful settlement with peace-inclined armed groups such as the Communist Party of the Philippines, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Moro National Liberation Front,” he said.
The support to the Philippine National Police’s campaign against drugs was also included in the new campaign plan.