AFP, PNP clashing on firearms policy

GOTCHA - Jarius Bondoc (The Philippine Star) - February 27, 2015 - 12:00am

READERS REACT to Press Sec. Coloma’s defense of Smartmatic-PCOS (Gotcha, 23 Feb. 2015):

Fiel Clemencio: “He must be reminded: the only recourse to unclean, incredible elections is civil war. It may not happen now but it will if the deceit of 2010/2013 go on, and the culprits stay unpunished.”

To the massacre at Mamasapano and the Bangsamoro entity (Gotcha, 20 Feb. 2015):

C.D.S.: “If Marwan was such a high-value target as the ‘bin Laden of Asia,’ how come his killing went unreported in CNN, BBC, Fox News, Time, Newsweek, and The Economist? Just asking....”

Mira G.T., Cotabato City: “The MILF is recruiting tricycle drivers, sidewalk vendors, unschooled istambays for one-month training, on the promise to replace the police under a Bangsamoro, with P15,000 monthly pay. ID photo shops are full since it’s one of the requirements to apply.”

Leila Hasan, Manila: “Shame on lawmakers who shout against the Bangsamoro Basic Law in order to be called to Malacañang, and there be given pork barrel to enact it.”

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Sec. Gazmin and Roxas point to Gen. Purisima as overall head of the Mamasapano operation that ended in debacle. Purisima admits he was in full control despite being suspended. P-Noy had let him usurp the authority of the PNP chief, so is as liable for the deaths of 44 police commandos and five civilians. That Purisima later lied to him about the massacre, as P-Noy told congressmen, is but a consequence of abetting the usurpation. So say a law dean, a trial judge, and two litigators.

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On camera and in camps, generals feverishly are gluing the cracks of the Mamasapano debacle between the AFP and PNP. Blame-game had marked the televised probe of the massacre of 44 police commandos by Moro separatists. The PNP Special Action Force held answerable the military’s slow artillery and no air support. The AFP shot back that its field units were told of the SAF raid only when the commandos got trapped in exfiltration. On surface, the mistrust is due to earlier flops in AFP-PNP joint operations to get international terrorist Marwan from the rebels’ lair. But it is much deeper than the generals’ public group hugs can salve. For, AFP and PNP missions bitterly contradict, like in gun control in war zones.

The AFP rule is to keep the truce with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front at all costs. In the Marwan ops, Army units dutifully informed the MILF of territory pass-through, as the ceasefire terms require. At times the Army jointly battles with the MILF its splinter Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters or plain bandits. Other times the military just watches from the sidelights as the MILF and BIFF wipe out each other in “rido” (clan war), often over land. The aim is to lower the intensity of conflict, like the LIC in America’s early strategy in South Vietnam.

The AFP interprets the history of the Moro wars. Time was when “Ilaga Black Shirts,” the militia of Ilonggo migrants to Mindanao, kept at bay the “Barracudas,” Moro politicos’ private armies. But then Marcos’ martial law Constabulary disarmed the Ilagas, as the Moro secession flared from the Jabidah massacre, tilting the balance of terror. Of late, the military has been arming Moro politicos known to be anti-MILF/BIFF.

That’s where the AFP’s mission clashes with the PNP’s. The latter’s job is to enforce the law, especially against index crimes. Who’s pointing a gun at whom matters not to the police. The law requires licensing, so cops will confiscate loose guns. Who killed whom is no issue either; cops will arrest any homicide indictee the court so orders.

Recent incidents in Muslim Mindanao brought the AFP-PNP tiffs to the fore. During the May 2013 election campaign the police raided a town mayor’s house in Lanao del Sur on tips of an illegal arms cache. The ensuing probe showed that the seized machineguns, which civilians are forbidden from possessing, came from the Army. The police refused to return the weapons unless shown proof of official military registry. What emerged was a memo of agreement from five years and two field generals back that certain local officials’ homes were to be AFP extension armories. The PNP grumbled that such MOA was the very cause of poll violence. Indeed it reeked of the Ampatuan massacre.

The following year the PNP arrested an MILF commander long wanted for killing a civilian kinsman. The Army asked for his temporary custody, then set him free. It was a military gesture of goodwill that the rebels were expected to reciprocate by not plundering Christian villages. For the police, it was obstruction of justice.

Who’s with whom has become hazy. Like, the BIFF Commander Bigtime allegedly is the elder brother of the ruling Liberal Party mayor of Mamasapano, a grandson of the indicted Ampatuan massacre mastermind. Police claim that soldiers accompany the enemy leader to R&Rs in Davao City, a charge the Army refutes by anti-BIFF offensives.

Joint AFP-PNP law enforcements solidify cooperation, on the other hand. The SAF fighting side-by-side with Army Special Forces to free Zamboanga City from siege by disgruntled Moro ex-rebels in 2013 is a sterling example. But the occasional mis-coordination rankles. Like, last Dec.’s confiscation by Army troops of unlicensed rifles in the resort of a Sulu town mayor had to be patched up by the police, since there was no search warrant. The SAF chief’s accusation of no military help, when the Army in fact had extracted 29 police commandos from certain massacre, deeply hurt the Army rescuers.

The defense and interior departments are pitching in, to be sure. The AFP deploys Army battalions in each province to augment the police. The PNP has formed area operational directorates, like for East and West Mindanao, to match the military’s. Still kinks remain to be ironed out. The PNP for decades has been demanding a list of official firearm serial numbers, which the AFP refuses to give. Then, there are gunrunners on both sides. The MILF vice chairman bragged yesterday to have procured sniper rifles from thieving Army generals. The AFP decries the theft of 1,004 AK-47s from the PNP armory at Camp Crame GHQ, which ended up in the hands of communist guerrillas.

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Japan’s top breeders will be in Manila to judge the two-day Philippine National Koi Show at Tiendesitas, Pasig, Feb. 28-Mar. 1.

Joining the Japanese judges are Peter Waddington, acclaimed Koi author and inventor of the revolutionary ERIC pond filter; and Filipino RJ Seva (Shinkokai Association of Japanese Koi Breeders and Dealers).

The annual Koi competition attracts participants from all over the country, and features hobbyists’ show-quality Japanese carp. Admission is free.

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Catch Sapol radio show, Saturdays, 8-10 a.m., DWIZ (882-AM).

Gotcha archives on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jarius-Bondoc/1376602159218459, or The STAR website http://www.philstar.com/author/Jarius%20Bondoc/GOTCHA

E-mail: jariusbondoc@gmail.com


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