Soldiers to remain in depressed metro areas–Yano

By Alcuin Papa
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 23:38:00 05/24/2008

MANILA, Philippines—Soldiers deployed in depressed areas in Metro Manila will stay at their posts as long as the military leadership deems it necessary, according to Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Gen. Alexander Yano.

In a talk with reporters yesterday, Yano said the soldiers were “doing a fine job.”

“If you ask local executives, barangay captains and people on the ground, you can have a good response to the need for our soldiers,” Yano said.

Last year, the AFP announced it was deploying soldiers in the metropolis to help contain the growing crime rate. But when the Philippine National Police (PNP) said it did not need the help of the AFP to maintain the peace, the AFP backtracked and admitted that it put the soldiers there to combat efforts by militant groups to organize dissent among the urban poor.

The AFP also said the soldiers were there on “civil-military” operations, like helping in the construction of barangay halls and in undertaking medical missions.

“They are not doing combat assignments. They are helping the people understand the true nature of the insurgency movement,” Yano said.

Yano said he expected militant groups to protest the continued stay of the soldiers in the areas.

“For sure you will have a clamor from many of these sectoral groups allied with the CPP-NPA (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army) to pull out. We feel they are feeling the effects of the deployment on their organizing efforts. They are being hurt by the presence of the soldiers who explained to the public the real intent and nature of the insurgency. That is expected,” Yano said.

But Yano said that when the AFP leadership feels a need to redeploy the soldiers somewhere else it would do so immediately.

“As of now, there is a need for them to stay. It’s an open-ended thing. If we feel there is a need, we will continue. But in the future, if we feel they have to be redeployed somewhere else, then that is an option.”

The AFP has deployed around 500 soldiers around Metro Manila, divided into 50 teams of 10 soldiers each.

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