AFP junks 'Bantay Laya' vs rebels, adopts 'Bayanihan'

By Jay Ruiz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 21 2010 06:48 PM | Updated as of Dec 22 2010 02:48 AM

MANILA, Philippines – “Oplan Bantay Laya,” the military’s combat strategy during the Arroyo administration in fighting communist rebels, has been replaced by a community-focused development program, Armed Forces officials said on Tuesday.

National Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Gen. Ricardo David unveiled a new security plan against enemies of the state during the AFP’s 75th anniversary celebrations at Camp Aguinaldo.

President Benigno Aquino III, the AFP’s commander in chief, was guest of honor and speaker during the event.

The new plan, called “Bayanihan,” will replace “Oplan Bantay Laya” that was heavy on military operations.

The new strategy will focus primarily on civil military operations and development activities.

It is a product of a series of consultations and with various stakeholders, including non-government organizations, government agencies, and members of the academe, Gazmin and David said.

With the new plan, the military is changing its focus from a predominantly militaristic solution to “people-centered” support in winning the war against the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).

AFP officials turned over the Bayanihan plan to the President during the Camp Aguinaldo ceremony.

Aquino called on soldiers and the public to support the AFP’s new plan of action to ensure peace in the country.

He said he will lead and oversee the new plan, which focuses on a nationwide approach wherein every citizen of the country is a stakeholder in winning the peace.

Aquino also announced that he signed an executive order that more than doubles the combat pay for soldiers.

He said the executive order increases the combat pay of soldiers from P240 to P500 a month.

The event was capped by a parade that featured different major services, contingents, offices and units of the AFP.

Floats, heavy equipment, military hardware such as tanks, trucks, Navy vessels and armored personnel vehicles were shown in the parade.

The Air Force also had a fly-by formation of different aircraft such as S-211 trainer jets, Huey transport helicopters, and attack helicopters.

Paratroopers also joined the event.

The President later went to the V. Luna AFP Medical Center to visit injured soldiers.