Gen. Benjamin Madrigal, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff, is accompanied by Eastern Mindanao Command Acting Commander Maj. Gen. Ronald Villanueva and newly-installed Easternmincom commander Maj. Gen. Felimon Santos on his arrival at the Naval Station Felix Apolinario in Panacan, Davao City on Monday.
DAVAO CITY -- The newly-installed commander of the Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) on Monday vowed to fight "battles on all fronts" to end the decades-long communist insurgency.
But Maj. Gen. Felimon Santos recognized that the military would face difficulty against the New People's Army (NPA) if it did not have the support of the "all government agencies and stakeholders."
In his speech after assuming Eastmincom post, Santos said the troops will engage community stakeholders to address poverty -- "the root of the insurgency."
He said the fight against NPA -- the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) --requires a “whole of nation approach” and "good governance."
As the new chief of the Eastmincom, Santos vowed to sustain the gains of the command and further improve community engagement.
Santos said brigade commanders have been instructed to deal with different government agencies focusing on poverty alleviation.
“We have to identify the problem and we give the solution. We have to complement (government) programs,” he said.
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff, Gen. Benjamin Madrigal expects Santos to implement the "National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict", which is seen to help the government in its ongoing anti-insurgency campaign.
Madrigal, in an interview at the sidelines of the turnover of command here, expressed optimism on Santos' leadership.
Madrigal, who was the Eastmincom commander before he assumed as AFP chief, noted that Santos was able to practice the "whole of nation approach" in confronting the communist insurgency when the latter headed the Army's 7th Infantry Division.
“With the kind of proactive and unified cooperation, definitely madaling magagawa nito (he can do it easily),” Madrigal said.
The "National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict" -- embodied under Executive Order (EO) 70 -- mandates all government agencies to come together to totally eradicate the root causes of conflict and violence.
"We have made significant progress and have headways in our campaign to end the insurgency. But to reach what we can call a complete victory, we need to create communities that are conflict-resilient, and we need local and national government agencies to attain this," Madrigal said.
Santos once headed the 11th Intelligence Service Unit based in Davao City and subsequently became the group commander of the Army's Intelligence Service Group.
He also served the 39th Infantry Battalion, a unit deployed to various provinces in Mindanao; the 703rd Infantry Brigade in Central Luzon; battalion commander of the 63rd Infantry Battalion in Samar province; and as assistant division commander of 6th Infantry Division based in Maguindanao. (PNA)