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National

Army chief: militias dismantled by 2016 as AFP shifts to external security

An AFP contingent participates in an Independence Day parade in this file photo. According to the Army chief, the AFP hopes to transition to external defense as internal security conditions improve toward 2016, and part of the result will be a phaseout of militias, some of which were implicated in human-rights abuses.

InterAksyon.com
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA, Philippines - Army chief Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Bautista sees the dismantling of all paramilitary forces in the country by 2016 as the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) transitions from internal to external security.

Bautista, in a forum at the Ateneo de Manila University in Quezon City on Wednesday, said they see the dismantling of about 60,000 paramilitary forces within the end of the implementation of the Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP) Bayanihan, the AFP's program to "win the peace" through combat and non-combat initiatives.

Paramilitary forces consist of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) and the Special Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit Active Auxiliary (SCAA).

Bautista, replying to queries on the alleged human rights violations committed by paramilitary forces, admitted that these auxiliary forces lacked the same kind of discipline as regular military troops. But paramilitary forces were borne out of "exigencies" and budgetary constraints in the organization, he explained.

"In the future, as we downsize the AFP, first to go are the CAFGUs," Bautista said. Speaking to reporters after the forum, Bautista said he sees the dismantling of these forces "as security condition permits" and improves, adding that one premise if if the "CPP-NPA,NDF abandons the armed struggle."

In the forum, Bautista acknowledged that the AFP should focus on external rather than internal defense. The job of internal defense, he said, should be mainly in the hands of local government units and the Philippine National Police.

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