Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Army finishes peace, development projects in Mindanao; rebels howl propaganda

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / January 12, 2010) – The Philippine Army on Tuesday said it finished more than P76 million worth of peace and development projects in Mindanao, but communist rebels branded them as propaganda and part of Manila's anti-insurgency campaign.

The 10th Infantry Division said a total of 59 projects were completed by soldiers under the so-called Kalayaan sa Barangay Program in Davao region last year. It said soldiers finished many 16 farm-to-market roads, 13 school buildings, 13 rural electrification projects and 14 water systems, including 3 day care centers.

“Elements of 10th Infantry Division together with the Army Engineer Battalions and different support units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines spearheaded the implementation of these projects in coordination and support of local government units, non-government and people’s organizations and other stakeholders, particularly the civilians,” said Captain Emmanuel Garcia, an army spokesman.

He said Compostela Valley province, a known stronghold of communist rebels, has the most number of development projects, followed by Davao del Norte province.

Major General Carlos Holganza, commander of the 10th Infantry Division, said the overwhelming support of the citizens to the government’s peace and development efforts played a crucial role in the completion of the projects. “This is a proof of the sincerity of the government to bring much needed infrastructures for our people in the countryside,” Holganza said.

He also lauded the soldiers for their hard work and dedication to the peace efforts in Mindanao.

“Our soldiers deserve our admiration as they tirelessly carried on their tasks in implementing the KBP projects in the countryside where continued threats of saboteurs are present. The local government units, line government agencies, the local residents and other stakeholders also deserve our praise for their inspiring support. They are the true heroes in these endeavors,” Holganza said.

The KBP projects are infrastructures being implemented nationwide by the Armed Forces of the Philippines through funds coming from the Department of National Defense. It is line with the government’s peace and development initiative focused on national priority areas where the presence of threats to national development is strongly felt.

Communist rebels have recently accused the military of embarking on a massive propaganda in Mindanao aimed at targeting the New People’s Army and leftist organizations as part of the government’s anti-insurgency campaign.

The NPA branded as propaganda the Philippine Army’s ACEs or Army's Concern for the Environment, Army's Concern for Engineering, Army's Combat Excellence and Advocacy for Credible Elections.

“The fascist Philippine Army's recently pronounced four ACEs is only a preliminary propaganda purveyed by its chief, the notorious Lieutenant General Delfin Bangit,” said Rubi del Mundo, a rebel spokesman.

“The Philippine Army's Concern for Engineering means it will intensify its ‘winning the hearts and minds campaign’ through hard projects or road construction in areas where both United States and the Philippine Government have economic interests and where revolutionary movements such as the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Front are strong. These projects are part of its psychological war tactics in counter-insurgency operations and belie the sincerity of the Philippine government in delivering social services, which should otherwise be carried out by civilian institutions of government,” Del Mundo said.

The NPA has been fighting for decades now for the establishment of a Maoist state in the country. Peace talks between rebels and the government failed in 2004 after the NPA accused President Gloria Arroyo of reneging on several agreements, among them the release of all political prisoners and to put a stop to extrajudicial killings of activists in the Philippines. (Mindanao Examiner)

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