Philippines to fight hard against leftist group: official

17:37, July 02, 2010      

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The Philippine administration will not go easy on dealing with the New People's Army (NPA) and plans to reduce its members significantly over the next three years, the top official of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said on Friday.

President Benigno Aquino III's promise to modernize the Philippine army and to recruit more forces will make the three- year timetable in addressing the four-decade-old insurgency problem a reality, newly-installed Armed Forces chief Lt. Gen. Ricardo David told reporters.

"The focus of our internal security efforts shall be the decimation of the terrorist groups who remain to be most imminent threat to our internal peace and security. We shall remain vigilant and ready to protect the people from atrocities committed under the white flag of truce or upon the breakdown of peace talks, " David told the 127,000 soldiers of the Philippine army.

The NPA and the Abu Sayyaf are in the list of the U.S. and European Union's foreign terrorist organizations. Peace talks with the insurgents bogged down in 2004 following the NPA's inclusion in the terrorist list of the U.S..

In 2006, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had set aside 1 billion pesos (21.46 million U.S. dollars) aimed primarily at ending the country's insurgency problems in her term.

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