MANILA,  July 31, 2004
Various reforms in the country’s police and military institutions have resulted in creating a climate that is conducive to investment and crucial to the realization of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s 10-point agenda of governance.

A technical report on the State of the Nation Address (SONA) showed that the creation of the Police Anti-Crime Emergency Response (PACER) and the National Anti-Kidnapping Task Force (NAKTAF) has resulted in the neutralization of most wanted kidnap-for-ransom (KFR) groups in the country.

Among those apprehended were the mastermind and others involved in the Betty Sy case, Abu Sayyaf leader Galib Andang (Commander Robot) and Abu Sabaya, four members of the Abu Sofia group and Nurodjin Salik, the leader of the Kalong Pened KFR group.

The arrests of these masterminds and their cohorts resulted in the neutralization of 15 of the targeted 20 priority KFR groups in the country while rendering the remaining five groups inactive.

Republic Act No. 9165, the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, created the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) to strengthen the anti-drugs campaign.

Intensified drug operations resulted in the neutralization of eight international and 191 local drug syndicates, and clearing about 5,140 out of the 8,163 drug-affected barangays in the country.

These also led to the arrest of 100,733 financiers, big and small-time drug users and pushers, and the seizure of P35.56 billion worth of illegal drugs and essential chemicals.

The dismantling of 37 shabu laboratories and warehouses, including the largest shabu factory in Antipolo which yielded P2.2 billion worth of illegal drugs, cut the supply of illegal drugs as shown by the increase in shabu price from P800 per gram to between P3,000 to P5,000.

Efforts to eliminate illegal gambling were intensified by Republic Act No. 9287which increased the penalties for illegal numbers game (jueteng) and defined the responsibilities of local chief executives and police directors in the campaign.

This resulted in the arrest of 88,331 bettors, collectors and "cabos," the neutralization of 380 financiers, confiscation of P31.2 million cash bets and gambling paraphernalia, and the filing of 31,051 criminal cases against known gambling lords, jueteng financiers and bettors before various courts.

Crime incidents were also reduced by 15.6 percent and a monthly average of 87.3 percent street crime solution efficiency rating was achieved from April 2003 to March this year.

Intensified operations by the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) also decreased by 27 percent the strength of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) from 11,930 in 2001 to 8,763 in March 2004.

The threats posed by international terrorist groups were also reduced through intelligence gathering and cooperation with our partners in the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), resulting in the neutralization of Jemaah Islamiyah operative Fathur Rohman al Ghozi in Sulu and the arrest of wanted terrorist Taufiq Rifqui.

All these were attributed to the enhancement of police and military welfare and capability, including the allocation of P10.8 billion for the modernization of the AFP and the upgrading of the salary of PNP and the AFP personnel that is now at par with the salary grade level of public school teachers.

Added to these are monthly allowances and housing and scholarship programs to promote the welfare of the policemen, soldiers, and their families.

The government also initiated reforms to address the recommendations of the Feliciano Commission on the legal grievances of young military personnel involved in the Oakwood incident. These include the creation of an Enhanced Grievance System, a Special Task Force to monitor the cases involving the AFP retirement and pension scam, and a single Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) to handle contracts worth over P50 million and simplify logistics and procurement process in the AFP.

To professionalize the PNP, the curriculum in the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) was revised from the old para-military training system to a disciplined and community-based system in order to have technically proficient law enforcement officers imbued with integrity, and moral and ethical standards.

The government has pursued peace negotiations with the CPP-NPA-NDF and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which was stopped for almost two-and-a-half years by the previous administration in favor of an all-out war.

To move the peace process with the CPP-NPA-NDF further, preparations are being undertaken by the government panel for the drafting of a Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER). The government is also processing the release of a number of alleged political offenders or prisoners as a confidence-building measure.

Renewed peace negotiations with the MILF, under the "President’s Peace Initiative for Mindanao," resulted in a bilateral ceasefire in July 2003 that continues to hold on the ground, the signing of an interim peace agreement on relief and rehabilitation of war-torn communities, and a commitment from the MILF, in a show of good faith, to assist the government in the interdiction and isolation of terrorist groups seeking refuge in MILF communities.

At the same time, the government ensured that the final peace agreements with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), the Revolutionary Proletariat Army (RPA-ABB) in Negros province, and the Cordillera People’s Liberation Army (CPLA) are substantially complied with.

To advance the government’s advocacy and promotion of a culture of peace, institutionalized inter-faith dialogues were held in partnership with the local governments and the private and public educational institutions as a peace process mechanism to strengthen solidarity among Christians, Muslims, and the indigenous peoples.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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