By Aaron Recuenco
The Philippine National Police (PNP) is now preparing for a takeover of the Internal Security Operations (ISO), or the operations against the communist rebels and other threat groups inside the country.
In fact, PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde said the police’s two elite forces are now regularly conducting operations against communist rebels in Luzon and Visayas areas.
He is referring to the Special Action Force and the Public Safety Units in the regions and the provinces—the two well-trained and well-equipped units of the PNP.
“This is already gradually being turned over to us with regard to Luzon and Visayas. Our police forces have been conducting operations in Luzon and Visayas,” said Albayalde.
He said the PNP’s capability to fully assume the ISO from the military will be further boosted with the recruitment of five more battalions of the Special Action Force (SAF) which is expected to be completed next year.
This is also the reason, according to him, the new police recruits are now mandated to take commando training courses in anticipation as the aim is to make all the incoming policemen ready for attacks by the communist rebels.
“Kaya nga gagawin natin ito to train our new recruits on commando forces of SAF. Whether you will be assigned with the SAF or not, they will now undergo the training because of that foresight that eventually the ISO will be returned to us from the military,” said Albayalde.
But Albayalde was quick to stress that it may be a different case in Mindanao, as he insinuated that it will take more time before the PNP could take control of the law and order in Mindanao.
Aside from extremist groups like Maute and Abu Sayyaf, Mindanao is home to two major rebel forces which is the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Moro National Liberation Front.
Another group, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), is also yet to be finished off by the military despite several attempts to end it.
The eastern part of Mindanao, on the other hand, is considered as a stronghold of the New People’s Army.
“The problem is different in Mindanao compared to Visayas and Luzon,” said Albayalde.
There were several attempts in the past administration to prepare the PNP in taking over the ISO in order for the military to focus on external defense amid threats from China.