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DESPITE SETBACKS

New AFP chief to uphold peace talks with Moro, communist rebels

/ 01:59 AM December 13, 2011

CHANGE OF COMMAND President Aquino (left) and newly installed Armed Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Jessie Dellosa salute the flag during Monday’s turnover rites at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City. JOAN BONDOC

Lieutenant General Jessie Dellosa, who became the Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff Monday, said the military would uphold the government’s peace negotiations with Moro and communist rebels despite setbacks in the talks.

At the turnover rites at the AFP general headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City, Dellosa said that under his term, the military would focus on territorial defense, the internal peace and security plan, disaster preparedness and the ongoing organizational reforms.

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Having personally experienced and  witnessed  destruction and death brought by war, Dellosa said a purely military solution would not end the decadeslong insurgency waged by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the New People’s Army (NPA).

A decorated Army Scout Ranger officer, Dellosa was twice badly wounded in Mindanao while fighting Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) rebels.

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He went on to lead operations against the NPA and the Abu Sayyaf bandit group and to assume command posts, the latest of which was the AFP Northern Luzon Command.

“We fully support our President’s stand for “all out justice and not all out war,” Dellosa said, referring to brutal killing of 19 Army elite troops and wounding of 15 others in an ambush by MILF fighters on Oct. 18 in Al-Barka, Basilan province.

Dellosa will lead the 120,000-strong military until January 20 in 2013, when he has to retire.

“Experience has shown us that the Mindanao crisis cannot be solved through a purely military solution because the problems in Muslim Mindanao are multifaceted,” Dellosa went on.

“I personally witnessed and experienced the bad side of war fighting the MNLF, the MILF and the Abu Sayyaf group. I was also a victim of that war having been wounded in combat twice, the first in Jolo and the second time in Basilan. I witnessed how my men fought hard and died in combat, how their families suffered a lot with the loss of their loved ones as heads and breadwinners of the family,” he said.

He also spoke about the destruction of communities that became combat zones, “the loss of so many lives, the displacement of so many families especially children with nowhere to go or hide.”

Give peace a chance

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“The conflict in Mindanao has been going on for over four decades inflicting suffering and damaging the people living in combat zones. I think it’s time to give peace a genuine chance. Conflict can be solved without the loss of lives,” Dellosa said.

But he said the military would use “legitimate force on rogue or lawless elements” who disrupt the peace process.

“With peace process in one hand, we will still deploy and maintain a credible deterrent force in the area. This is to demonstrate the institution’s readiness and willingness to use legitimate force against any actions of rogue or lawless elements that may inflame hostilities and disrupt the peace process,” he vowed.

In describing the successful first year implementation of “Bayanihan,” the new counterinsurgency plan, Dellosa cited the surrender of rebels and arrest of top leaders.

Roots of insurgency

He said efforts should be focused on addressing “the roots of insurgency” which he said were poverty, social injustice and corruption.

“In this aspect of work, it should be clear that the role of your AFP is not to lead but to support,” Dellosa said.

He urged local executives in affected areas to set aside their personal and political agenda to deliver basic services.

“They have a big role to play in addressing the root causes of insurgency and in delivering the basic services to the people,” Dellosa said.

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TAGS: abu sayyaf, AFP, Government, Insurgency, Jessie Dellosa, MILF, Military, Moro rebels, NPA, Peace Talks, rebellion
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