Distressing “Kapanatagan”

THE ARMED FORCES of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Benjamin Madrigal Jr. and Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Oscar Albayalde signed last January 10 the Joint the AFP-PNP Campaign Plan “Kapanatagan” 2019-2022 to strengthen coordination and cooperation between military and police forces in its counterinsurgency and suppression campaigns.

Its declared objective is to “defeat all threats to national security.” “Kapanatagan” (stability) is anchored on Rodrigo Duterte’s Executive Order 70 which established the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict.

Under “Kapanatagan,” regional Joint Peace and Security Coordination Committees, composed of the AFP, PNP, local government units and civilian agencies, will be created. The AFP has full control over the operational funds of “Kapanatagan.” It also has direct command over the PNP, with local government authorities having almost no power over the police forces under their jurisdiction. In the National Capital Region, this was named Implementation Plan “Kalasag.”

The military will spearhead the attacks on those it accuses as “communists” and organizations tagged as “communist fronts” both in the countryside and urban centers. The police on the other hand will serve as supporting forces in AFP combat operations. Aside from this, the PNP will spearhead arrests, planting of evidence and filing of trumped-up charges against targeted individuals.

Oplan Sauron, which was implemented in Negros in December 2018-January 2019, was im­ple­mented under Kapanatagan. Similar tactics are being employed in other parts of the country.

In Masbate, the NPA reported on May 31 the rampage of “Kapanatagan” in barangays Dalipe, Panan-awan, RM Magbalon, Guiom, Taberna, Cabayugan, Calumpang and Iraya in the town of Cawayan. The 2nd IB and PNP-Masbate scoured the said areas and coerced village heads to sign agreements prohibiting residents from joining rallies. Military and police forces ransacked houses and stole personal belongings, including 80 cavans of palay, domestic animals and the residents’ P11,000-savings.