Are our soldiers really sleeping with the enemy?

December 22, 2018

I’M posing this question in the wake of an embarrassing incident in Sibagat, Agusan del Sur last Wednesday wherein local Army and militia troops literally ‘donated’ over a dozen high-powered rifles to the New People’s Army and the police sting which led to the confiscation of a huge cache of weapons and high-powered ammunition.

That incident in Agusan del Sur came in the wake of a police operation in Valenzuela City last Sunday which led in the recovery of an estimated P1.2 million worth of guns and high-powered ammunition believed to have been spirited out from a military armory in Central Luzon.

In that operation, NCPRO agents under Director Gilor Eleazar arrested two members of a gun trafficking syndicate during a sting which led in the recovery of two 5.56 assault rifles, a handgun and 12,893 rounds of live ammunition for M-60 light machine gun and M-16 rifles.

“I just cannot imagine the death and destruction that will result should these war materials fall into the hands of the New People’s Army, Abu Sayyaf Group, and terror groups,” a bewildered PNP chief, General Oscar Albayalde said as he added that there were intelligence reports that the syndicate is providing armed groups and rogue politicians as far as Mindanao.

I hope that the military will really fully cooperate with the police investigation into claims by the arrested couple that the weapons and ammunition seized from them actually came from a retired Army soldier from  Fort Magsaysay.

The PNP needs all the help they can get from the military in identifying the real source of the weapons which turned out to be loose firearms—not registered with the PNP Firearms and Explosives Office—and the thousands of ammunition which were contained in boxes with AFP Lot Numbers.

Were they pilfered by a group of enterprising Army insiders who want to get some instant bucks from the sale of the guns and live ammunition? Were they smuggled outside a military armory with the main intention of selling them to Enemies of the State? These are the two questions which in my mind must be answered truthfully.

I really agree with Gen. Albayalde when he said that it would be ‘very dangerous’ if the nearly 13,000 rounds of live ammunition ended up in the hands of the NPA or the Abu Sayyaf Group and other lawless elements including partisan armed groups in the country. With a single shot, a trained shooter can kill 13,000 targets with that huge volume of ammunition. Provided that an ordinary man can carry as much as 300 live ammos,  that means there will be 43 shooters that can kill targets in a day or so.

Given the lavish pampering they are getting from President Duterte—the only Philippine president who have doubled their pay and gave them what the government can really buy them, I also wonder why two soldiers and 12 militiamen manning a patrol base in Sibagat, Agusan del Sur last Wednesday failed to really put up a decent fight against their NPA attackers.

As a result, all of them have been taken hostage by the rebels along with their weapons and ammunition triggering speculations that the detachment could have been ‘infiltrated’ by the guerrillas prior to the incident.

As things have been fast turning out, the soldiers and militiamen didn’t fire a single shot when they were attacked by the leftist gunmen. Aren’t they listening to President Duterte’s repeated ‘order’ for the military and the police to better shoot themselves dead rather than be captured by enemies of the State. Are they thinking that the President is just joking?

While our policemen in Bicol under Chief Superintendent Arnel Escobla last Monday night  showed true grit and again gave true meaning to the old Constabulary’s motto ‘always outnumbered but never outfought’ when they repelled simultaneous attacks launched by heavily-armed NPA rebels following heavy gunbattles which wounded three cops and a civilian, our soldiers and militiamen in Sibagat did the contrary.

The Armed Forces’ leadership have expressed outrage over the failure of their men to put up a fight against the NPA raiders and have made a vow that those troopers will be meted with the maximum punishment under the military justice system once their negligence and cowardice are proven.

AFP chief General Benjamin Madrigal was right when he formed an AFP Board of Inquiry to investigate the NPA raid and determine how it was carried out despite their increased alert level nationwide. I hope too that there will be no more similar incidents in the coming days.

My main worry is that following the raid, NPA rebels in Mindanao have added 17 units of 5..56 M-16 automatic rifles, four 7.62mm M-14 rifles, two 5.56mm R4 rifles, one 7.62mm M60 machine gun and a Harris Handheld radio to their  weaponry system. They now have 24 high-powered weapons that can kill soldiers and policemen tasked to go after them, all courtesy of the Sibagat troops.