Soldiers should ensure that people see them as allies, the incoming chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines said Wednesday, as he laid out his strategy to end the decades-long communist rebellion.
Lieutenant General Cirilito Sobejana laid out his counter-insurgency approach as the current leadership parried criticism over red-tagging that has led to at least one official apology and the departure of two top generals from national leadership posts.
"We must empower and increase people’s situational awareness and impress upon them that in the name of public service, the soldiers are not above them or below them but instead we are beside them," he said.
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Sobejana, who is in his last days as commanding general of the Philippine Army, spoke during a visit to the 402nd Infantry Brigade in Butuan City.
“If we wanted to get the full support and cooperation in our efforts, we must have PEACE, People Empowerment in Addressing Conflict Environment," he said.
There are around 3,500 members of the New People's Army, according to military estimates. It is one of the world's longest-running Maoist insurgencies that is deeply rooted in poverty on the countryside.
“We must know how to look back, even in doing our own job. We should look back and put forward the things that we have done that resulted to a good outcome and learned lessons from our mistake," he said.
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