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Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff Gen. Gilbert Gapay / PNA / AFP PAO

AFP chief asks soldiers to enforce anti-terror law properly

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Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff, Gen. Gilbert Gapay directed Filipino troops to ensure the proper implementation of the recently passed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, or Republic Act 11479, at all times, according to a report by Philippine News Agency.

“We know how this law would greatly help us in building our confidence and poise in our operations. I am confident, and I know for a fact that every man and woman of the AFP is responsible, accountable, and objective enough to enforce this law,” he said in a statement Wednesday.

Gapay issued the directive after visiting the Central Command (CentCom) headquarters in Camp Lapu-Lapu, Cebu City on Tuesday.

Earlier, the AFP said the approval of the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 last October 14 would greatly help the military in tracking down and arresting terrorists and their allies.

The new law, which repeals RA 9372 or the Human Security Act of 2007, seeks the detention of suspected terrorists for up to 24 days even without a warrant of arrest.

It also allows the police or the military to conduct 60-day surveillance with an allowable 30-day extension on suspected terrorists.

After a briefing on CentCom's security situation and ongoing operations, the AFP chief lauded the officers and enlisted personnel of the military’s stronghold in the Visayas for managing the situation in the area, especially Cebu which was hit hard by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

“While we continue to contribute and help in the national efforts to curb Covid-19, our main priority remains to be our triumph in eliminating Communist Terrorist Groups and Local Terrorist Groups, which makes sense, for our enemies are also taking advantage of these trying times to pursue their propaganda. We cannot let that happen. We must not let that happen,” he said.

CentCom has recorded a total of 533 surrenders of both regular members and supporters of communist terrorist groups from January 1 to October 15 this year.

It also reported 28 enemy fatalities and 74 apprehensions in legitimate combat operations during the period.

Meanwhile, some 173 high-powered and low-powered firearms, 75 improvised explosive devices, and 42 encampments were seized from the enemy.

“Let us work hard towards intensified operationalization of the Executive Order No. 70 for we already earned significant gains through this Whole-of-Nation Approach. With the continuous involvement of the local government units, local communities, and other stakeholders, we can reach greater heights and yield more successes in this fight against insurgency,” Gapay said.

The AFP is one of the agencies that compose the National Task Force on Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF ELCAC) which implements a Whole-of-Government approach towards achieving lasting peace and development for the country.

While the AFP does combat operations to defeat communist terrorists and destroy its support system, relevant agencies are mandated to conduct programs and projects towards the unimpeded delivery of the government’s basic services.

“With full trust and confidence, I am certain that Team CentCom, through the steadfast leadership of Lt. Gen. (Roberto) Ancan, will continue to contribute and work not only for the good of our Armed Forces but most importantly, for the welfare and betterment of our nation and our people,” Gapay said.

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