NEWLY-installed Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief Ricardo David set a three-year timeline to decimate the New People’s Army (NPA).

David, the first AFP chief to serve under the government of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, said they can end the insurgency problems with the promise of Aquino to modernize the military.

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“Our priority is decimation of terrorism and insurgency in the country which continues to derail our efforts to attain lasting peace and development. I am thinking of two to three years self-imposed (timeline) to end the insurgency,” David said.

He laid out his priority during a press conference after he formally assumed as the chief of the 127,000-strong military establishment.

In his assumption speech, David said: “The focus of our internal security efforts shall be the decimation of the terrorist groups who remain to be most imminent threat to our internal peace and security."

"At the same time, as advocates of peace, we shall observe the primacy of the peace processes. We shall remain vigilant, ready to protect the people from atrocities committed under the white flag of truce or upon the breakdown of peace talks,” he added.

Aquino presided over the ceremony held at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City on Friday morning, the first time he set foot at the military general headquarters since his inauguration as President last Wednesday.

The NPA is in the list of the US and Europian Union’s foreign terrorist organizations, along with the Abu Sayyaf, among others. Peace talks with the insurgents bogged down in 2004 following the NPA’s request to be excluded in the terrorist.

In 2006, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo directed the military to end the insurgency problem on or before the end of her term, even earmarked P1 billion for the campaign. The NPAs has about 7,000 fighters then.

In May, the military leadership said the directive of Arroyo cannot be met. However, the military was able to dramatically reduce the NPA strength to just about 4,700 as of first quarter of this year.

Under the modernization program, David said they want assets that would improve the air capability.

“What I see as the priority need of the soldiers in the field are helicopters, night vision goggles, medical equipment that will improve their survival during operations,” David noted.

He said the military is still in the process of crafting a campaign plan against the insurgents and other threat groups to replace the Operational Plan Bantay Laya II that expired at the end of the Arroyo administration. VR/Sunnex)