Armed struggle not a solution, new AFP chief tells communist rebels

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Thursday, January 17, 2013

MANILA -- The man behind the military's counter-insurgency program formally assumed on Thursday as the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff with a call to the communist rebels to abandon their decades-old armed struggle.

In his speech during the AFP Change of Command ceremonies, Lieutenant General Emmanuel Bautista cited the framework agreement forged by the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front as "a national triumph for peace" and hoped that the communist rebels will also "pursue the road to peace."

"We hope that the [Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's
Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF)] will likewise pursue the road to peace and abandon the armed struggle. As we have long realized, armed struggle is not the solution to our problems," said Bautista.

Bautista led the formulation of the military's counter-insurgency program, the Internal Peace and Security Plan "Bayanihan." He was then the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, J3, in the AFP when crafted the said plan in July 2010.

Colonel Arnulfo Burgos, AFP spokesman, earlier described Bautista's appointment as "very timely" since the IPSP Bayanihan "shifts to high gear" in its third year of implementation.

"Being the chief architect of IPSP Bayanihan and now at the helm of the AFP, we are highly optimistic that he would be able to lead and enable the organization to make vital progress and significant development which will help the organization and its partner agencies and stakeholders to achieve the shared goals of a just and lasting peace for our country," said Burgos.

Bautista is a graduate of the Philippine Military Academy, Dimalupig class of 1981. In 1985, he earned a Master's degree in Business
Administration from the University of the Philippines, among other pertinent academic credentials obtained from various institutions here and abroad during his career.

Meanwhile, President Benigno Aquino III gave his first challenge to the new AFP chief, which is to ensure a peaceful conduct of the May 2013 polls.

"Ang hamon ko po sa inyo: ang AFP, kasama ng ating kapulisan, ang may obligasyon na siguruhing maidaraos nang mapayapa at may integridad ang darating na halalan. Nais nating mangibabaw ang boses ng bayan, at hindi ito mabusalan ng armas, takot, at karahasan," Aquino said in his speech.

On the other hand, Bautista guaranteed fairness in the part of the military.

"We are likewise sworn to protect our democratic institutions and processes. Your AFP shall remain non-partisan in the upcoming May elections. You can count on us to assist in ensuring honest, credible, orderly and peaceful elections," Bautista said. (Emmanuel Louis

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