War vs communists must be won with ‘military force’–Teodoro

By Joel Guinto
First Posted 12:23:00 07/25/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. said the war against the communist insurgency should be “won with military force, not without,” as he rejected anew a military proposal to declare an “indefinite” ceasefire with the rebels to revive peace negotiations.

But at the same time, Teodoro played down his and General Alexander Yano’s contradicting positions, saying only President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo would have the “last word” on the matter.

“I know what’s always said, the cliché that you cannot win it by military force alone, but it should be won with military force, not without, or else you will not be able really to have a clear settlement of the problem,” Teodoro said in an interview with reporters in Camp Crame on Friday.

Teodoro was asked if sustained military offensives were necessary to meet the President’s 2010 deadline to defeat the nearly four-decade-old communist insurgency.

In a statement, Yano said: “Until an official policy is given on the matter, the AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines] will not waver on its campaign to reduce the insurgency problem to an inconsequential level by 2010.”

Yano reiterated his position that a ceasefire would in fact “enhance” the counter insurgency campaign since the rebels would be given the choice to “take the better option” of “talking peace.”

But with or without a ceasefire, Yano said the AFP was “on track” to meet the President’s deadline.

Teodoro said the military offensives would not be “on a grand scale” but troops would apply “increased pressure” on the NPA that would lead to the dismantling of guerilla fronts.

“What I’m saying is until such time that there is a definite policy on the ceasefire, there is no ceasefire to talk about,” he said.

The defense chief said that Yano could have been “baited” by media into proposing a long-term ceasefire with the communist insurgents.

“I know him to be a professional officer, perhaps his views may not coincide with mine. That’s fine. We’re both professionals and we follow the directives to us,” Teodoro said.

Peace talks between the government and the communist rebels have been stalled since 2004 after the insurgents protested the government’s alleged inaction in having them removed from the terrorist lists of the United States and the European Union.(PDI)

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