By Priam Nepomuceno

(Courtesy of PFC Carmelotes, PAOAFP/AFP Facebook)

MANILA – In 2023, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) was most proud of the eight New People’s Army guerilla fronts it dismantled, aside from weakening 14 others.

The achievements reaffirmed the military’s commitment to national security and regional peace.

“As of December, there are no more active CTG guerilla fronts,” AFP public affairs office chief Col. Xerxes Trinidad said in a news release Sunday.

Continued focused military operations by the AFP also resulted in the neutralization of 67 high-value communist targets and 1,399 members of communist and local terrorist groups.

Among the top leaders neutralized were Dionisio Macabalo (alias Muling/Kardo), secretary of the North Central Mindanao Regional Committee; and Farahudin Pumbaya Pangalian (alias Abu Zacharia), amir of Daulah Islamiyah-Philippines and overall amir of Islamic State-East Asia, Trinidad said.

Additionally, the AFP seized 1,751 firearms through capture, confiscation, recovery, or surrender, reducing the capability of terrorist groups to carry out violent attacks against government security forces and local communities.

“At the beginning of a new year, new challenges and opportunities arise, demanding the collective efforts and expertise of the AFP. However, I am confident that we will rise to the occasion and overcome whatever obstacles come our way. Therefore, let us embrace the coming year with a reinforced commitment to our mission and shared values,” AFP chief Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. said in a separate statement.

The AFP also took on non-traditional roles, such as supporting humanitarian and disaster response operations within and outside the country.

One such mission was the Philippine Inter-Agency Humanitarian Contingent to Turkey, which was hit by a magnitude 7.8 earthquake in February.

The public acknowledged AFP’s feats with a high satisfaction rating of 85 percent in an OCTA Research survey conducted Sept. 30 to Oct. 4.

For 2024, Trinidad said the AFP will gradually shift focus toward territorial defense operations; ensure its presence and increase efforts in maritime security; conduct more joint activities with allied forces and minded nations that share the commitment to peace, security, and international cooperation; and strive to be an organization that the Filipino people can trust and count on. (PNA)