New AFP chief to soldiers: Respect human rights
MANILA, Philippines–“No collateral damage in military operations.”
This was the stern warning of the newly installed Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr., to his men on Tuesday, as he began his tour of the various military headquarters in the country.
“We have to project ourselves as modern armed forces,” Catapang said. “There should be no human rights violations.”
Catapang first visited the Northern Luzon Command in Tarlac where he first grew and matured as a military officer and the 1st Air Division Headquarters in Clark.
His visit was highlighted by the traditional “Talk to Men” where he challenged soldiers to continue the Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP) Bayanihan, the AFP strategic guidelines in the attainment of internal peace and security.
“The IPSP Bayanihan is bringing us peace and we should all protect this peace from those who seek to test its merits,” Catapang said.
He also ordered the soldiers to “maintain discipline and core competence in the highest standards in order to ensure the achievement of our mandate.”
He also reminded the soldiers to stay focused on their mission and “not be distracted by the on-going political dynamics in the country.”
Catapang is scheduled to visit the Major Service and other Unified Command Headquarters.
‘Felt by the people’
Meanwhile, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos Deles said the consequences of reforms that have been happening in most difficult areas, such as conflict-affected and vulnerable communities, have been felt by the people.
Deles cited as an example the reforms being undertaken in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) where the regional government under the administration of Regional Governor Mujiv Hataman has been pushing long-awaited reforms.
She said the ARMM had historically lagged behind the rest of the country in terms of peace and progress.
The ARMM is one of the biggest recipients of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), which has been used to support the reforms and development initiatives in the region. The DAP has been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
OPAPP received additional allotment from the DAP amounting to P1.819 billion in 2011 and P248 million in 2012, to support its crucial work on achieving negotiated political settlement of armed conflicts and peace and development initiatives as a complementary track under the Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (Pamana) program.
“The funds were utilized for priority development projects for communities nationwide affected by and vulnerable to armed conflict as well as areas covered by existing peace agreements,” Deles said.
The funds were also utilized for the provision of immediate and livelihood assistance to former rebels; for consultation and capacity-building interventions in support of addressing women’s issues in situations of armed conflict through the “Localization of the National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security”; and for the conduct of information, communication, and monitoring activities in line with the peace process.
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