By JIGGER J. JERUSALEM,
WITH only more than three years to go before the present administration ends its mandate, a top security official said the government wants the communist insurgency in the country to end by 2022 or before President Duterte steps down from office.
National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon said they expect to make the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) irrelevant by 2022.
“We are tempted to set a self-imposed deadline which would be naturally 2022 because that’s the end of the term of the President,” Esperon told reporters during the Mindanao summit of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict held at a hotel here on Thursday.
The summit was attended by the Cabinet Officers for Regional Development and Security officials, local chief executives, and tribal leaders coming from all over Mindanao.
He said they have projected that three years from now the CPP-NPA would have massive losses that they are no longer able to launch attacks and cause to trouble to the country.
“There may be a few stragglers left but by that time, they would just be doing banditry and the Philippines would have been able to fly economically,” Esperon said.
But he said there are many challenges that could hinder the government’s effort in achieving its target to weaken the communist guerrillas’ fighting strength.
Esperon cited the lack of resources needed to kick-start infrastructure projects and the delivery of basic services to the people, especially those living in the countryside.
But he said that Mindanao, where the war waged by the CPP-NPA is most felt, has seen progress and development in spite of the armed conflict occurring in many areas in the island, particularly in the Caraga and Northern Mindanao regions.
“Mindanao has contributed so much, how much more if there is no conflict, especially now that some secessionist movement has also changed course and now opt for development,” he added.