JoeAm’s findings: Day 2 of the Senate hearing on the Battle of Mamasapano

mamasapano battle ground 02If you ever doubt the quality and capability of the Philippine leadership, and the potential for good executive leadership, just pull up a tape of this senate hearing and watch the new cadre of (mostly) young, passionate, intelligent senators in action. There were no politics today, just a sharp focus on the issue at hand, understanding the Battle of Mamasapano. I wish American legislators could see this. I wish they could work like this.

My favorites, in rank order, based on intelligence and focus, starting with the best, would be: Angara, Aquino, Poe, Escudero, A. Cayetano. Any of those five could be president. No problem with me.

Here are the major observations I drew from the meeting, without any of the details or “who said” that led to the conclusions.

  • The senate body is just a step below outraged that the MILF did not send someone of authority who could speak to the incident. “Does the MILF think it is a separate state?” “All the top government officials are here, cabinet, military, PNP, peace coordinators . . . why not the MILF?” The passage of BBL has gone through the following probabilities of passage in the Legislature:
    • Before the incident: 90%
    • Immediately after the incident: 75%
    • After senate hearing Day 1: 60%
    • After senate hearing Day 2: 35%
  • There are three ways the MILF can start to rebuild trust: (1) deliver Usman, (2) return equipment and personal effects of the SAF casualties, and (3) attend the hearings  . . . in public, not in executive session as requested by the MILF.
  • Legal remedies can and will be pursued.
    • Commanders and fighters of MILF and BIFF are subject to investigation, arrest and prosecution. The MILF has a contingency in the Cease Fire Agreement that players may seek legal relief as a “non-state actor” or political relief, later. But for now, investigation will proceed. Charges such as murder, among others, are being pursued. BIFF fighters have no out. If they committed crimes, they will be pursued to the full extent of the law.
    • The PNP is subject to civil service laws and regulations, not military. The military is subject to military laws and regulations. Those remedies will be taken in due course.
  • There is no military “chain of command” in the PNP above the director. Thus, neither Secretary Roxas nor President Aquino are a part of the command structure. It was confirmed again that the President gave no specific orders, and Purisima stuck with his explanation that he only gave advice based on his prior knowledge of the operating details. He gave no orders.
  • It appears that SAF General Napeñas may be liable for not informing his boss Espina of the operation. He said he was only following the Operation Plan which called for all notifications to go out “time on target”, or as the operation began. The Operation Plan is put together by high ranking individuals within the PNP, and was approved by Purisima when he was still on active duty.
  • PNP Interim Director Espina said that cooperation and coordination between the AFP and PNP across the nation is “vibrant” and healthy”. The relationship between parties in the Marwan hunt has been troubled (that would seem to point to SAF General Napeñas and AFP General Pangilinan as having a personality conflict).
  • Considerable attention was focused on the lack of artillery fire and the slow response time of the AFP. AFP General Pangilinan’s argument was that they did not have good information. They had the grids but no sense of urgency. They didn’t know where people were, civilians or troops. They received no call to “fire on our positions”, a desperate last-chance try to save lives by firing at the SAF position. The reinforcement units met with fire and they were in the dark with respect to everything.
    • SAF General Napeñas again reiterated that the plan called for AFP notification “time on target” because of the AFP’s failure to support the prior mission with mechanized units. Trust is clearly broken.
    • A number of senators remained unconvinced about the AFP’s explanation due to the slow response, and because as three phosphorus artillery rounds were fired late in the day after the incident was over. Not when they could have provided help.
    • The matter of “scorn” for opposing forces was raised, generally to describe Napeñas’ view, I think. I have the nagging feeling that scorn also played a part in the AFP’s lackadaisical effort, and that needs to be investigated thoroughly. That would be a serious offense contributing to the great loss of life. General Pagilinan seemed to have a lot of excuses and absolutely no sense of urgency.
  • If the MILF is harboring known terrorists, they are in violation of the cease fire agreement. Marwan and Usman were only 500 yards from MILF territory, within BIFF territory. MILF people firing would also break the cease fire agreement, but police firing would not. It is the MILF’s duty to respect police actions (needs further debate). A required 24 hour advance notice to MILF of police actions does not come into play if the target is a “high value target”, as Marwan and Usman were.
    • I find bizarre the notion that gangsters/terrorists have official territory. I also find bizarre the idea of giving advance notice of police/AFP operations to an organization that acts like an enemy (MILF). No wonder forces never catch anybody and are always ambushed. Representative of the cease fire coordination team, on the other hand, cited instances in which MILF participation helped the mission succeed.
  • Roxas was reluctant to offer hindsight judgment, but he clearly thought the “time on target” notification provision in the operating plan was wrong. I personally suspect that Purisima and Napeñas understood they would get these kinds of objections, and were willing to take the chance that mission success would justify them. So they bypassed both Roxas and Espina. It seems to me that means that Purisima is a part of the “scorn” problem, if it is true.

The next meeting is Thursday.


169 Responses to “JoeAm’s findings: Day 2 of the Senate hearing on the Battle of Mamasapano”
  1. karl garcia says:

    My question is what will remove the scorn,absense of trust feeling of emotional blackmail,etc.
    An arms race is not a solution.whether it is true that they(milf) are really more equipped than our security forces, what do we do just have a strong military or police to counter balance?
    I am at a loss
    Now the scorn within our peace and order group who is supposed to be interoperable is acting like in the movies were CIA,FBI,NSA does not see eye to eye and try to outdo each other until a super agent or super soldier who reports only to the president shows up.

    • sonny says:

      Checks and balances, maybe? Like, Whatever IA cannot catch, the external agencies will. Or like highly risky endeavors, viz national security or a space mission, must have redundant subsystems in order to insure a failsafe trajectory, maybe? This is curiouser and curiouser …

      • karl garcia says:

        You made me understand redundancies, but interoperability is still a problem becauee if more checks than balances which undermine the fail safe features.

        • sonnyc says:

          For interoperability and avoidance of gridlock: Formulate protocols? Design heuristic systems? Maintain cross-disciplinary special teams? (Small is beautiful) Bourne series, a fascinating simulation. – Sorry, Karl going on a tear of fancies. Been watching too much TV and movies. Am recommending to watch SAFE HOUSE (movie). We are graduating many Filipino advanced mathematicians and engineers (e.g. Operations Research, Stochastic processes), why not employ them, design vetting and clearance system and bring our AFP & PNP to the 21st century. Heaven’s sake. 😦 Sigh…

          • sonnyc says:

            Last stab: for example, a bro-in-law (brown like us) cannot retire because the US gov’t keeps on calling him back to design the HVAC of US embassies worldwide. We have proven (PDAF) money is no matter when we want to do something bad enough. EOR (end of rant) whew!

            • Karl garcia says:

              Yes we have talent but they the navy for example lacks naval architects (as in zero left) that they rely on the internet and designs from vendors.

              • karl garcia says:

                i just confirmed your point all the talent but in the wrong places( that depends). your bro in law must train a newbie asap i know easier said than done. but as in the navy the ones left are either too low ranked or what.(cant think)so training a newbie might not be the quick solution but as they say better late than never. that is one of my observations before soldiers are content to be colonels now it is a battle of the stars. Yes many higher ups are talented but once they are up they say “not my job i have two stars.Not mine too I have three.”

              • karl garcia says:

                attitude, aptitude , altitude..remind me of grid coordinates

              • sonnyc says:

                Grrrr, Karl! Ganyan din ang pansin ko. My dad was a WWII survivor. Like many he continued as career PA. Their generation got out of the war with tons of respect for life, country and family. They (junior officers and NCOs) became the salt of the AFP. I hope the AFP, PMA in the rank & file are better than “… not my job” paradigm.

          • karl garcia says:

            Sonny no worries about tv and movies all i can say is same here(refer to our previous exchanges).I have seen Safehouse too and he(reynolds) acted better there than in green employment mismatch still aplenty unfortunately.As for curriculum, i was told they were topnotch before like vietnamese, thai study here,now that they have their own military academies we get to bite the dust again,but why o why?is it over confidence,complacency,stagnation or all of the above?

            • sonnyc says:

              Karl, the USMA, Annapolis and USAFA are rated with the Ivy League universities for undergrad training. This is both by design and practice and tradition. For me the graduates of these military academies must be trained in the Liberal Arts, Engineering, History and Gov’t and the Art of War. I am hoping the PMA is such a school.

      • Joe America says:

        It seems to me this would have been avoided with a change in personnel about two years ago. Napenas is too angry to work with AFP. He sold that anger to Purisima, and thus was hatched a “we’ll show you guys how it’s done” mission.

        • josephivo says:

          …but Napenas got his 245 peso a month extra too for doing dangerous work, so what? For that money you should have all the courage, knowledge and motivation to do perfect jobs time after time.

          Or did people with these competencies left the country for 1000’s of dollar a month extra?

          I can understand some of the frustration in top police and military ranks, especially if they see the lifestyle of some colleagues and politicians with incomes much less than a million peso a year. (Isn’t that why “line of command” is so important to keep everybody in check?)

          • Joe America says:

            Indeed, salaries across government are not commensurate with their huge responsibilities. Purisima, P107,000/month. Hineres, not much more. It’s hard to present authority when you drive a 1976 Datsun.

        • davide says:

          I was wondering really, thru the comment or narrative of Gen. Espina, his people were slaughtered by the Moros (MILF/BIFF). As also stated by Train one of the survivor that the SAF group must have decimated more than a hundred as against claimed by the Moros. Considering the method in the aftermath, that was when the SAF ran out of bullets and having killed plenty of the MILF and BIFF comrades? I think it was vengeance that took over that is why the remnants of the SAF was desecrated. I strongly believe that lose of lives and wounded on the part of the Moros was very high so the carnage and revenge took place. The SAF men are well trained and it is expected that they can do a lot of damage even when cornered.

          • Joe America says:

            Yes, good point. And what happened overnight as all the forces retreated to sleep, resuming the body pick up in the morning. Bizarre to me. It seems to me that 18 is a little short, and maybe 250 a little much. I doubt we’ll ever know.

    • sonnyc says:

      From left field, maybe the PNP should be confined to policing relatively “pacified” regions of PH, while potentially separatist (viz. preservation of the “union”) problems be handled by the AFP. This was the state of affairs during the Communist/Huk threats of the ’50s. The AFP was in the driver’s seat and the Philippine Constabulary was ancillary and more “coordination-friendly” in the checking of the national threat. To my knowledge there were clearer lines of identity, jurisdiction and objectives then. With some tweaking to allow and leverage the information age, this configuration can still be effective and efficient.

      • karl garcia says:

        Was it really that simpler then? maybe it still could with the tweaking.

      • Joe America says:

        Simply denationalize the police and place it under cities and municipalities. Let AFP hunt for terrorists.

        • Karl garcia says:

          Denationalization of pnp would also mean no more missions and assignments away from home, no need to learn a new dialect no need to assimilate and so on. Ill stick to advantages because if i mention budget it will be another excuse. Our miliary wants billion dollar assets to defend against china,yet we still have internal security issues we are trying to resolve forever.

        • josephivo says:

          Under control of local mayors? Belonging to the local clans and dynasties? May be a good idea in 20 years time when corruption is a little under control.

          • Joe America says:

            Yes, good point, that warrants some thought. The clans in Mindanao all have their private armies, but the cities seem generally to run responsibly. How does Duterte keep his strict law and order? I don’t know. But I think community policing would work in about 80% of the Philippines with no problem. In my own municipality, they really operate as community police, and are looked at that way.

          • Pallacertus says:

            Twenty years is tad optimistic.

            I do have a question regarding what Joe has suggested (apropos of nothing? — does anyone know of reasonably socially and economically stable countries with “decentralized” (or “denationalized”, whichever is the right term) police forces (not specific enough yet)? How does that all work anyhow?

            • Joe America says:

              Haha, are you saying what I say is apropos of nothing? The US has decentralized police at several layers, state, county and local (city). Each has clear responsibilities that keep them apart, or working together fairly well. The police of large cities have specialized units like SAF (SWAT, anti-drug, whatever). They have near-military capability, but nothing like SAF, with its huge manpower. The local police report to the mayor through the chief. There is no army presence in the streets at all. Military are for external threats unless there is a catastrophe (typhoon or massive public unrest). States have a “national guard” or reservist military unit occasionally called up for major protests or special needs. The national police are the FBI, generally not in uniform.

              The domestic unrest in the Philippines does not exist in the US. If it did, I suppose the army would come in to support local/state/FBI . . . I don’t really know.

    • Joe America says:

      Yes, inter-agency rivalries in the US often make it to the top or are driven by the men and women at the top who want more access to the President, bigger budgets, and more satisfaction for their ever-enlarging egos. Also, the US has a problem with the “militarization” of the police, SWAT teams that are commando specialists, big firepower to deploy to mass demonstrations, and more manpower.

      As for the PNP and AFP, I think PNP should be removed from the terrorism and anti-rebel hunt. Indeed, I’d argue that it ought not be national at all, but community, dealing with local crimes.

      • karl garcia says:

        lots of demilitarization to follow because there are still plenty in the higher ups that are PMA graduates. I dont know if the PNPA has miltary science based curriculum,but maybe they should not. And denationalization of PNP may happen.
        As for removing rebel hunting i agree,but rebel defense must be substantial.
        We hear 1 police officer against 20(more?) rebels stories every now and then with the police officer shred to bits.

        • Joe America says:

          Most interesting about denationalization, which could be a natural outcome of this hearing, and also regarding rebel defense. I agree, it needs to be substantial, and the Army has to have close ties to communities. Or to community police, if that is the way it develops.

        • sonnyc says:

          @ Karl I was only 10 during my usual visits to IIMA HQ, dad was adjutant after assignment at BCT level. I heard patrol this patrol that during the hot yrs of the Huk uprising. Looking back there is a big deja vu the way I infer from back & forth here. The rebels giving haven to terrorist duo and the Huks then are almost identical as irredenta, one to international radical Islam and the other to communist bloc. Thus I’m convinced the AFP should drive, not the PNP. The PMA trained PNP brains should in fact be complementary to the main AFP mandate of security. The personification of this arrangement is former President Ramos (USMA and PC chief of yesteryears) He should have plenty to say if he is still compos mentis.

          • karl garcia says:

            I know I said alot about FVR after this incident,but i still have a lot of respect for him and I think he is still “compos mentis”. About dejavus, so the only thing constant is change and if nothing changes then nothing is constant. forgive me for trying to be funny.
            I have heard Joe’s side of the delimitarization of police and yours that since the PNP brains are PMA grads they should be complimentary not otherwise.They are both good points to ponder.

  2. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    Most of the time I shoot from my mouth. I seem to know what the tabloids would print and the excuses of the actors. This time, these senators seem CAPABLE OF INTELLIGENCE. I am just wondering why? I wonder why they act looney most of the time but INTELLIGENT on Mamasapano. Why? This I cannot wrap my brain around it. Yes, it is true we have justice for the poor and justice for the rich. It now appears we have unintellectual investigations on Tiu, Arroyo, Binay and American-style investigation on Mamasapano and Pemberton.

    Is this to gain trust from American Military partners not MILF? I cannot know. They only know. And that is top National Secret that Filipinos can ever never will know.

    • Joe America says:

      My experience with the tabloids like the Inquirer is that I like to read a newspaper at the coffee shop while sipping my Bo’s coffee. So I go through to find the substantive articles, the ones with information other than quotes that inspire anger, and – snap – I am done in five minutes, have the feeling akin to eating but still being very hungry, and still have over a half cup of coffee left.

      It is news lite-lite.

      • chit navarro says:

        My expereince with news these days is to read your blog and that of Raissa’s; go through all the comments then scan Rappler and Inquirer to see whether the issues discussed upon in these 2 blogs are in their news… 🙂 🙂 🙂

        • Joe America says:

          Ahahahah, so we are the drivers of real information and analysis, and they are leaning on us. ahahahaha Could be.

        • Yvonne says:

          I am of those who are spending more time reading Joe’s blog as I find the posts here intellectually stimulating. I read PDI and ABS-CBN more for distraction in my daily grind and less for news source. Rappler is a good source for news but I keep on wondering if NED has its fingerprint on it the way it was thought to be with PCIJ.

          Good to read your posts here chit.

  3. AdS says:

    Thanks Joe for your blog and the kind of exchange you’re trying to build here (expressing my gratitude is overdue)…have lurked here for sometime now, mostly soaking things in and evolving (hopefully, hehe)…I come whenever I need a breath of fresh air from the mostly murky lazy discussion i get from the mainstream media… its like i get to eavesdrop on levelheaded people who can still carry a real discussion, with just about the right healthy levels of compassion, openness, objectivity, skepticism, and even hopefulness…

    Anyway… just wanted to clarify: is the “scorn” you are referring to the “score culture” that Sen. Trillanes was talking about [see 4:25 from I might be wrong but I think he meant the competitiveness of the various security services against each other (“inter-service rivalry”) and their “drive to score” apparently sometimes leading to lack of coordination and all kinds of associated problems (Trillanes way of acknowledging that after the Albarka incident DND tried to address this issue by instituting a new SOP that operating units can no longer independently mobilize without informing area operational commander)….

    But yes…I do understand that scorn does come in the bigger picture… its probably how its possible to have such willful misunderstanding for so long among organizations and peoples in such large scale and for such long time….

    • Joe America says:

      You know, maybe I heard that wrong, because “scorn” is not a common word here. “Score” makes more sense. They both deal with inter-agency rivalries, one the build-up, the other the tear-down. There was a lot of tear-down yesterday between Napenas and Pangilinan, so maybe both words work.

      The “score” word is really excellent for what might have happened here, Napenas and Purisima angry about the AFP’s failure to support their prior operation with mechanized units, and determined to execute a “we’ll show you how its done” mission.

  4. bauwow says:

    Senator AP Cayetano has to be singled out,imho. Man, he has balls to say it in the face of the representative from MILF, that they were the problem. They were the reason that the 44 SAF men were killed. He even branded the MILF as terrorists, which maybe probably true! I hope the good senator has bodyguards to keep him safe and his family.

    It is also interesting to note tha both the PNP, and AFP are in dire need of funds for communications. How can we explain at the height of battle, the responsible officers were exchanging text messages. Maybe, they need to enroll their mobile numbers to avail of unlimited call promos offered by the 2 mobile companies.

    • Joe America says:

      Two years for SAF since ordering radios. Still no radios.

      You know, I agree on Cayetano. I factored into my ranking how well I thought they would work with others, and to some degree, Cayetano’s enthusiasm cuts people off from speaking. But I agree, man, he will take anybody on, even two or three people at a time, and deal with him head on. I think if the hearing were on popular tv, viewed by the masses, Cayetano would be the next president.

  5. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    Here are what is wrong with the operation which Americans will never ever do.
    1. There are just too many of them not to be detected. It is pure overkill.
    2. They did not have silencer on their firearms
    3. They did not have night vision goggles
    4. They did not have SWAT-like communication devices on their ear and microphones
    5. They did not recon the hut thoroughly and surrounding area because they did not have night vision goggles
    6. They did not have thermal imaging to detect body heat
    7. All of the 350 SAF (SPECIAL Action Force) went to the hut like it is barrio fiesta (my thoughts)
    8. There were no specialized 7-man team to go to the hut and secure their quarry
    9. I just wonder what the rest of 350 SAF were at at that moment.
    10.The operation was just absolutely totally incredible.

    What is absolutely hilarious was it was the MILF brought the dead to AFP. Questions arise:
    1. How did they deliver the casualties to AFP CAmp?
    2. Did they just walk in?
    3. How?
    4. It must be daring of MILF to collect the dead and hand-it over to AFP
    5. Why didn’t AFP fire at them?

    Is this what they teach in Philippine Military Academy?

    • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

      How in the world I believe this Truth Commission when they cannot even go to rice-paddy level and tell the Filipinos minute-by-minute.

      How in the world I believe this Truth Commission when they cannot ask the military why they were not equipped?

      There should be a separate investigation to determine where the money went for the night vision goggles, silencer, thermal imaging, etceteras ….

      Oh, I missed the part…. where did the money go to buy information from their human intelligence?

      Obviously, there cannot be a movie that will come out of Mamasapano to commemorate the SAF44. If ever a movie will come out, IT IS GOING TO BE A COMEDY.

      I bet these PMAyers can be defeated by the Cadets of Virginia Military Academy that wiped out the Union in Shenandoah Valley. To this day, the Cadets are commemorated every year by calling out the dead of their heroic acts.

      • Joe America says:

        The senators did ask about equipment, and basically the SAP assault force had rifles and night vision goggles. The radios ordered two years ago had not yet been delivered, so they used cell phones.

        They also asked about money for the raid (regular operating budget) but discussion of the “intelligence packet” will be done behind closed doors. I suspect the funding will be last on the list. I’m going to get my bookie Sal to set odds that the information will be leaked. Legarda is a loose cannon and was blasting (secret) mission names all over the hearing. She is an angry lady, or operates that way.

    • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

      In covert operation like in Mamasapano, snipers armed with .30 caliber sniper rifle with night vision are always strategically deployed in case something went wrong.

      2ndly, military choppers are in place and at the ready but not told why if something went wrong

      3rdly, military camps are at the ready, “just another exercise” ready


      PMAyers better get ready with Voltaire’s quote to extricate themselves.

      Cayetano and Trillanes should investigate PMA what they teach over there. While they are at PMA they might as well investigate U.P., too, for producing plenty of crooks.

    • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:


      White House is still silent on Marwan. Is he dead? Is he alive? The answer depends on who is asked.

      White House cannot confirm the death of Marwan. As I know, which very few Filipinos know, White House do not rely on witness accounts and affidavits. White House requires evidence. One finger is not enough.

      What is hilarious is the tabloid media is not silent on Marwan’s death. The Tabloid Media prefers that the people believe Marwan is dead.

    • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

      If Special Armed Forces were really concerned about trust and leaks, why did they allow 350 soldiers to carry cellphones? Did they text their mission? Were they quarentined to avoid leaks? Did they know their mission? Were there mock war games?

      Americans have helmet cams when they go on special mission. They had helmet cam when they took down Osama Bin Ladin. They have helmet cams so if something goes wrong they can study the video what went wrong and how they do it differently.

      It appears the Senate “Truth” Commission is more about figner-pointing and blame game not to fix the issue of the attack and how they would do it differently and improve on it.

      So, the Senate can never improve the soldiers. They will improve their finger-pointing and blame game.

      In ESSENCE, THE SOLDIERS WILL REPEAT THEIR MISTAKE AGAIN. Like history in the Philippines repeat again and again. It is either Filipinos love history or They failed history. And can never learn.

    • Joe America says:

      Yes, incredible. You should be a tactical commander.

    • Pallacertus says:

      Neither the PNP nor the AFP are known for their technological acumen (though I recall that the SAF men who went out to capture Marwan did have some of the gadgets you mention).

      That said, would they have known that Marwan had booby-trapped the immediate vicinity of the hut? It seems to me that not even sophisticated technology and superb training could’ve accounted for that possibility.

      (Maybe the SAF leadership could have just assumed that capturing an elusive terrorist wasn’t easy as pie, but enough with my layman-speak.)

      • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

        Osama Bin Ladin had low tech attack-repellent. DOGS. YES, BARKING DOGS. Did PMA SAF Commanders took these into consideration?

        • karl garcia says:

          all it takes to wake up everyone is a rooster.

          • karl garcia says:

            From Pallacertus comments this seems to be a suicide mission,you my get in but no way out
            At least the “expendable” :always escapes.
            let’s add to the confusion..
            they were not even expecting a double cross from informants? maybe one of their calculated risks dta except the double agents.

            a lot of monday morning quater backing already, but the questions seem bottomless.

            • karl garcia says:

              based on Gen Espinas heartfelt speech ; some were shot close range, before that i am sure they were hit first by sniper rifles, man if it is true that the distance covered by their rifles double the distance of the rifles of our boys, how can we win a battle much more a war?
              We were outmanned and outgunned.
              What was the answer to the SAF who lived to tell because they were more than a kilometer away from the action? They should be the one’s first toreinforce why not,no more ammo?
              Did they run out of bullets in just six hours? what happened to fire discipline?
              The quick answer to all of these is wait for the board of inquiry.
              But humor me?

              • karl garcia says:

                there must be a reason why the remaing SAF.. remained, not everyone got a clear picture of the terrain,battlefield or whatnot, the ones who do are there in action, so that shoots down the drone theory if saf were using drones the terrain would have been uploaded to youtube for everyones viewing ..seriously if there are drones a picture of the terrain would have been easily disseminated to all members of the mission.
                Now the should the army have memorized the terrain even when blindfolded because it is their territory.? I don’t know cant even hazard a guess.

              • karl garcia says:

                Oops. I know there is a limit to your patience.I must have reached it.

  6. Bert says:

    “As for the PNP and AFP, I think PNP should be removed from the terrorism and anti-rebel hunt. Indeed, I’d argue that it ought not be national at all, but community, dealing with local crimes.”—Joe

    But, Joe, isn’t it what happened in this Mamasapano incident? That was a police operation, to serve an arrest warrant for two wanted persons hiding in a community, wasn’t it? I think that if only the PNP has utilized the heavy weaponry available at their disposal, weapons like APCs and combat helicopters, only as a matter of reinforcement when necessary, when necessary, and in this case it was necessary, I think there would have been no need at all for the participation of the AFP in the operation. Imagine if Marwan and Usman were hiding in the Muslim area of Quiapo, Manila, I don’t think the AFP will have any business interfering in a police operation there.

    • Joe America says:

      The SAF is hardly community police. They are more military in orientation. That is the question do you build up the police as a military force, or use your standing military force? It seems redundant to me, but, hey, I’m just a marketing guy (and hardened war veteran).

      • Bert says:

        I’m sorry, Joe, I might have misinterpreted the meaning of your statement. I thought there we were talking about delineation of function between the AFP and the PNP.

        As to your other point, my take is that there should not be any constraint on the orientation as well as on the capabilities of the police in order for them to respond effectively to any and all contingencies, mundane or serious, when and if they arise. I’ve read and seen in international news reports that the same situation is prevalent also there in America wherein state police, responding to local crime situations, not only donned in military fashions but also equipped with heavy military paraphernalia. I hope you’re getting my drift, Joe.

        • Joe America says:

          That’s true about the US, and the “militarization” of police has become rather controversial due to the firepower they bring and along with it a willingness to use the firepower too easily. I’m all for the police, myself, as they fall into the same category as military, people who do dangerous work on our behalf. There are ganglands within the United States, big city areas, and they are patrolled by police, not army. The resources of CIA, FBI, State police, county sheriffs and local police often overlap, and deciding “who is driving it” is often a problem. The US does not have anything quite like the NPA or MILF/BIFF armies. I guess it does not matter who is fighting them as we know who the driver is, and clearly, the PNP and AFP have not figured that out. My recommendation to de-nationalize the PNP is to get better clarity into the decision as to who is responsible for what. The Battle of Mamasapano looks to me like it turned deadly because of internal conflicts between “friendly” military forces.

      • the way the AFP-6th ID responded, it exposed their none readiness despite the fact that there is an active threat of BIFF in the area. it seems that there was a deliberate move to delay the help…because PNP have outscored them.

  7. Bert says:

    Hey, guys, there is a live broadcast at GMA NewsTV of the Mamasapano incident right now and it’s more rambunctious. Why was I not informed?

  8. andrewlim8 says:

    Greetings, Joe. The Phil flag flies proud here in Hokkaido where they built a scale model of the Manila cathedral in ice. Of course reading political blogs like this & raissa’s occupy my down time. Discussions here are perfect to ruminate on while trekking or snowmobiling in powder snow. I can feel the political heat from here! I think bbl won’t pass this year.

    • Joe America says:

      Ahhhh, way to GO, andrew. What a great place to be. I hate snow, myself, having grown up in the stuff and having ears a little tender because of frostbite. But I admire tropical residents who actually go there ON PURPOSE. ahahaha. I know they are courageous. My poor wife froze when we visited Colorado in May last year. She decided she is a city girl, not a mountain girl.

      I don’t know if you caught it, but I dropped a note at Raissa’s blog complimenting you on your analysis of well over a week ago when you examined everything and the finger of accountability pointed directly at Napenas. Nice work.

      Bookie Sal has dropped the passage of BBL to 35%, in agreement with your conclusion.

  9. any of those 5 can be president? Including Bam Aquino? Are you out of your wit’s end???

    • Bert says:

      Why, Jeronie, of course we are. Those whose wits are intact think Binay is the cleanest of them all thus are praying that President Noynoy resign. Good luck to them.

      • Joe America says:

        That’s good, very good. I swear you are getting to the scalpel stage already.

        • Bert says:

          Joe, I’m getting short of instrument and ammo to use against the “enemy”. If this “encounter” goes on and the “oppositions” use excessive firepower I may be constrained to ask for reinforcement in the form of ‘artillery’ or ‘white phosphorus’ whatever those means, so ‘coordination’ with higher authority (meaning you) is hereby requested.

          • Joe America says:

            Actually, Bert, in the US Army, I was trained as an artillery officer, so I am well qualified to provide either definitions or supporting fire. White phosphorus disables the enemy, being a chemical that burns the eyes and skin and lungs. It is not nice stuff, but it is better than getting shredded by shards of steel from a regular shell. The SAF might have survived if white phosphorous had been used near or on their positions. In Nam, there were occasions when forward observers (the artillery guys out with the infantry) would call fire on their own positions when they were getting overrun by VC.

            Now as for discussions in blog threads, satire works much the same as white phosphorus. It stuns the enemy, gives them pause, and allows for a slick escape.

            • BFD says:

              Hey Joe, do you mean to say that what Mar said is true, that if Gen. Pangilinan ordered a white phosphorus drop (fire on my location), maybe that have made the BIFF/MILF/lawless elements to scamper away? Please enlighten us non-military commenters, because all along we thought that firing these things would be detrimental to the SAF44.

              • Joe America says:

                Yes, absolutely true. It equalizes the battlefield to some extent. They might not scamper away, but it would give the SAF a chance to fight hand to hand or grab weapons or run off. It would interject even more chaos into a dire situation. Even hard shells would have worked if the SAF had known they were coming and could be horizontal in the dirt while the attacking forces were on their feet.

              • Bert says:

                I believed you, Joe. It happened during the Mamasapano encounter when one SAF group of more or less twenty men, the 84th If I’m not mistaken, having been pinned down and surrounded by an estimated 300 rebels, taunting them, shouting to them in vernacular, like, “Ang tatapang ninyo, pumasok kayo rito sa kuta namin…papatayin namin kayong lahat…..”, or something to that effect. Lucky that at that exact moment, two or three white phosphorus salvos landed in or near the vicinity that caused the rebel to scamper away, thinking perhaps that the next salvos would be artillery as usually the case as Joe pointed out here.

    • Joe America says:

      What are your objections to Bam Aquino? Let’s get to the issue, and not my emotional state, which varies depending on how much sugar, beer, or coffee I have ingested. I see him as an objective, intelligent, hard working guy with his eye on legislation that the Philippines really needs (anti-trust legislation, better broadband services, and better environment for entrepreneurs). How do you see him?

  10. josephivo says:

    More than the rivalry between the army and police, is saw an elephant in the room. Money. What is the “price” of information? Who was paid of in previous raids? What were the deals to collect and split the reward money? What is a reasonable cost of a human live? We know about substandard Kevlar helmets, but what other substandard materials in use? What does the MILF pay for a “lost” riffle or ammunition?…

    Or did Aquino completely clean the army and police already?

    • Joe America says:

      I was disappointed that Sec Gazmin took no heat in the two hearings. Why are MILF/BIFF/NPA troops armed with Philippine high powered arms? Where did they get all the bullets they fired for six deadly hours? And mortars they fired at the AFP reinforcements? These are impoverished areas. Who is funding these guys? Why did AFP decline to provide mechanized support to the prior mission? What is being done about inter-service rivalries? Is the response time considered acceptable even in the confusion? You mean, they could not send scout teams out to report? What if their own units came under attack. Would it take them six hours to figure out what is happening a few kilometers away? Gazmin was like an untouchable, a man of stone, and possible just a figurehead letting generals rule their many roosts.

      • some generals never liked gazmin as DND sec. rumors circulate that he is meddling in some tactical operations, particularly in basilan-jolo operations.

        • Joe America says:

          Interesting. I feel a blog coming on . . .

          • sonny says:

            Off-track. Joe, why do I not sense Duty-Honor-Country in the PMA as I do USMA alums?

            • Joe America says:

              Good question, sonny. It is hard for me to ask that question as it makes me appear the arrogant American. I have a blog in the trash on “military discipline” for that reason. But for sure, it is missing. Maybe I’ll haul it out and change the name of the author. 🙂

              • sonny says:

                That’s ok, Joe. I don’t mind playing the peanut-colored oreo as long as the common human side can see the light of day. One image from my dad’s past military campaign against the Huks were the signs pasted on the barracks: OBSERVE SECRECY DISCIPLINE, applicable then and now. And today as an expat, I see the basic goodwill that makes this large democracy work. Not perfect but always trying.

              • Joe America says:

                True. Thanks, sonny.

        • sonny says:

          Sec Gazmin has PNoy’s ear all the way. There is a solid continuity of loyalty from old man Ninoy.

  11. karl garcia says:

    I am also curious about money trail, since I am no forensic, I can just google.

    MILF’s Funding comes from a number of sources. A large portion is provided by tax revenue from foreign companies and overseas contributions from wealthy Moros. Some MILF members own or manage businesses and funnel money back into the organization.

    The International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO), led by Osama bin Laden’s brother-in-law, Muhammed Jamal Khalifa, was used as a financial channel for the MILF in order to procure arms and other equipment. In addition to the IIRO, al Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiya have also donated funds to the Filipino terror group.

    Additional sources of MILF financing include kidnappings, drug trafficking, extortion, and contributions from supporters overseas. [14]
    While MILF denies links to the Abu Sayyaf Group, Al-Qaeda, and Jemaah Islamiya, these larger groups have been both direct and indirect in their influence on MILF. Through funding, these groups have bought loyalty from MILF members, and through more direct philosophical similarities, these groups have shaped MILF’s evolving tactics to secure an independent Bangsamoro state.”

    they forgot about revenue from pirated dvds

    • Joe America says:

      Ha, nice close. You and Bert are just too much.

      Thanks for that information, and the link. Wealthy Moros, yes, I suppose there are the feudal barons there, the clan heads, the warlords. They are like the oligarchs of the Bangsamoro. Wealthy Muslims. I suppose there are a lot of them across the nation. Like OFW’s, they send money and weapons home.

      I get rather discouraged about all this. The reality of these political/religious disputes. Big money funding brutality. It seems so much easier to just try to get along.

      I’m toying with a blog that “We the people are savages”. I look at the house hearing today, and there are savages there, too, attacking decent people, making wild and unsubstantiated accusations, being rude to one another. Posturing for political gain. Insensitive, ignorant, arrogant. Give them guns and money and they’d soon be just like the MILF.

  12. the professional jealousy is indeed evident between AFP and PNP-SAF. how come the AFP had no knowledge on the presence of marwan and usman in its AOR? they knew it, they’s just making excuses, maybe to justify funds for intel operations. old habits die hard. c’mon.

    it appears pangilinan is irked when the SAF launched the raid and got marwan. it was an insult on their part, besides that they were kept in the dark….simply because the 6th ID was sleeping with the enemy.

    • Joe America says:

      Yes, I have the nagging feeling that, if it had been an AFP unit under attack, it would not take all day to get there. Or if one of their units in the area came under attack. Just one shot and they’d be there in 30 minutes. This “no sense of urgency” does not cut it with me. I understand that Napenas has ego and made a mistake and may be a hard person to work with. But I’m sorry, his men have no say in that. As the hearing went on, I rather saw the AFP as the “culprits” as much as Napenas and Purisima.

  13. yet pangilinan denied in the hearing this afternoon that the failed ops last june 2014 was intended to get marwan. he’s just making excuses. i suppose you know that the 6th ID is the grooming ground for a possile top position for CoS since southcom days? i can recall a few: Garcia, Camiling, Senga, Villanueva.

    Therefore, Pangilinan must be dreaming too. and that’s the reason he needs marwan as well to score. with the elimination of marwan, what’s left for the porfolio?

    Nobody asked 6th ID to explain the withdrawal of military hardwares in the previous missions that led to the cancellation of the project.

    6th ID is a very juicy area of assignment.

    • Joe America says:

      They did not ask, and it was a big omission.

      • well, part of the coverup on the part of the military. senior officers in AFP is blaming it all on Napenas, a junior vs the batch ’81.

        that raid was a slap on the face.

        • Joe America says:

          Yes, it was. And slapping back by responding with no sense of purpose and abetting the murder of 44 people sure taught them a thing or two. (sarcasm)

          • ella says:

            if General Napenas was asked to resign his post, General Pangilinan should also be asked to resign for not answering the plea for help of the PNP.

            • Joe America says:

              I’m currently writing a summary of the entire incident considering various “culprits”. I agree with you.

            • karl garcia says:

              The way I understand it; the higher rank, the higher responsibilty,so I think General Pangilinan could be asked to resign eventually.
              .”It is too late” , “beyond our control” ,”we did not know what to do” is not an excuse for us, so it sure is not an excuse for any inquiry board.Let us see.

              The speech of Purisima that they do not follow the chain of command military parlance seems odd to me as a layman, they follow civilian rules,but even in corporate world there is a heirarchy of responsibility, so he used the administrative code definition of terms that confused me even more.

              • Joe America says:

                I think that Secretary De Lima is now acting as a legal advocate protecting the President, and Purisima is following her lead as outlined in her testimony. It actually all makes sense. The formal chain of command stops with Espina (testimony of Espina). Purisima had critical operations info (classified) that neither Espina nor Roxas had, or HAD to have. The President can consult with whomever he wants to do his job and so he got the briefing from Purisima. His last word to Gen. Napenas was “coordinate with AFP”. Something Napenas and Purisima decided would endanger the mission. The President is in the clear, except for politically motivated sniping.

              • Joe America says:

                Napenas and Purisima will bear most of the heat, but Pangilinan ought to bear considerable heat himself, for earning mistrust by prior acts (failure to consult with PNP and withdrawal of mechanized units from the prior operation), and for slow response in a live-fire setting. His response was horrid, whatever the excuses he throws up.

              • karl garcia says:

                thanks for making it clear for me Joe.Aftersenator miriam’s q and a please comment.

              • Joe America says:

                I’m sorry to say I missed her part in the discussion.

              • karl garcia says:

                I will rather wait for a whole blog instead.still a long hearing ahead.

              • karl garcia says:

                It’s ok Joe.

              • Joe America says:

                As I read the news accounts, It would appear that Senator Santiago did her typical showboat emotional rant that aggravates the matter and uses the tabloid press for her personal benefit, rather than calm and dignify the process. She would have been better suited to partake of yesterday’s surreal House session. She has basically accused the President, Pursima and Napenas of killing the 44 men, and I find that that is cruel and unreasonable. The Moro rebels killed the men. As for raising the coup discussions, she was being the ultimate media tease. Frankly, it pisses me off. If I were the President (I’m not), I’d have investigators on her doorstep getting names of the perpetrators, and if she refused to relate them, I’d seek her impeachment for collaboration with traitors. Coups are not trifling matters, and banding them about in hearings for glory points is disgusting.

                There. Okay?

              • karl garcia says:

                more than ok.

              • Bert says:

                Miriam’s mentioned of a coup should not be taken lightly. She has reliable sources of information from within the military circle being brother to former Chief of Staff General Benjamin Defensor and another General Defensor, so I think her information is credible. She mentioned also that the NBI might be already aware of this coup plot and so I would speculate that concerned officials at the highest level of government are already doing what are necessary to counteract the said plot.

              • Joe America says:

                If she is interested in the well being of the nation, as she pretends, she would move behind the scenes to let the President or DOJ or Gazmin, or whoever is appropriate, to get it snuffed. Rather, she blasts it to the tabloids and destabilizes the nation.

              • Bert says:

                Agree, Joe, but first let me correct my error. Mirriam is sister to General Ben Defensor, not brother (damn Chinese keyboard), heheh.

                Agree that Miriam should have moved behind the scene and not resort to tabloids.

                Our friend Karl here has reliable inside source, too, but his lips are sealed. Maybe he’s moving behind the scene, I’m sure of it, :).

              • Joe America says:

                I remember, as my father always used to say, “keep this to yourself, son.”

  14. Killer says:

    I just saw Gen. Espina at the congressional hearing. As I see it, the five and a half minutes during which he spoke was the most lucid period the nation has had since 25 January.

  15. but wherever this is leading, maybe pocket wars. MILF is a spent force. the leadership, as it seems, is not gearing for another major war should BBL fails. the disposition of its forces has depreciated.

    with the “ghost participation” of the US in the recent raid, the MILF leadership may be assessing if they are still capable to stun the government. they are still armed, but it is not as determined as they were before the fall of abubakar.

    drones are here, thought it may not fire missiles, it will soak the BIAF in miserable condition.

    • karl garcia says:

      Dang, if thr procurement law would exempt the pnp and afp things might be faster.but no negotiated deals allowed.wink wink .i am sure we dont lack defense contractors who had exploratory talks for the past several years and i am sure uavs are one if their offerings. The people who reject uavs are the ones in all change resistance stories.they are the personnel who dont want to be replaced by machines.

      • chit navarro says:

        I googled what UAV is – unmanned aerial vehicle.

        If the military procures this, I bet you, the grandstanding senators / congreemen who are all for the resignation of the President will say that PNOY, the video-game enthusiast, is getting himself war toys to practice on the Filipino citizens…

        But the discussions here is very educational…no wonder, TROLLS can not butt in because it is way up their thinking level…

    • Joe America says:

      Could very well be.

  16. karl garcia says:

    To Pablo,
    The MILF seems small now because of the splinter groups and factions. Once they volt in add some sympathizer here and there, no longer a small number(like the recent incident).Call it damocle’s sword hanging(peace talks), but Joe is right, it is easier just to get along.
    sad but we are back to square one in the peace talks,hope I am wrong.

    • but i dont believe they can give a good fight like in 2000 war. plus they dont have so much clout on the politicians now. the mangudadatu is not behind them, even the ampatuans. unlike in 2000, former gov candao was behind them.

      as joe pointed out here, there are factions within the milf. that’s true. and if they impose sanctions on the 105th leaders due to this mamasapano incident, expect another domino effect.

      • karl garcia says:

        sad that it takes just one politician or dynasty to change the game. yes ,more splinters to come.that is where we are good at splinter groups.

  17. karl garcia says:

    Senator Tito Sotto requested a copy again.

    • sonny says:

      Karl, this is for your “history files” under military history. I stumbled on this googling Sagad guerilla Philippines. Your dad piqued my curiosity about military history in PMA curriculum. This link is just a tickler for a classroom case study on guerilla/brigandage control and admin. Just thought interesting. the connecting thread is way up in this combox. sorry for putting it here. Sen Sotto might also want a copy. ha ha.

      • karl garcia says:

        hello again sonny,will try to google it. (no link)

      • sonny says:

        Sorry about the link, Karl. Yes, sagad is Escobar. (I have an out of print copy BAD GUERILLAS OF THE PHILIPPINES)

        You’ve got a historian’s tenacity and focus. Keep on and I wish a lot of it will rub off on me. I missed my chance not buttonholing my dad and uncles who were in the thick of WWII and specifically the USAFIP-NL saga of the Philippine liberation (1945). The link (I just started reading) is the US military distillation of the the intel fed by Filipino guerilla units to SWPac just prior to the 1944 push of MacArthur upwards to the Philippines.

        What caught my eye is the comprehensive graphics used by the author(s). I am surmising that the AFP or PMA must have some archival effort for the information to be used in training the future military and police minds of the country. I think this is what your dad meant about PH military history in our PMA and PNP. The debacle of Mamasapano seems to indicate there is no such archival effort or inadequate it must be to incur such scale of loss.

        I do not have Ray Hunt’s book. I will try Amazon. I have read (sometime back) WE REMAINED by Russell Volckmann.

        • sonny says:

          PS. I would include the link in my fantasy PMA class subject, Strategy and Tactics. Impertinent factoid: I read that one freshman class study in Caltech was: What would you do if there is an asteroid on a collision course with Earth. In PMA: How would you defend the Philippines from an aggresor internal and external?

          • karl garcia says:

            You inspire me to read Sonny. So manyy books gathering dust at home and some are already donated to libraries. Our encylopedia set was the first to go.

            • sonny says:

              Best compliment I received and will keep, Karl. Sometimes I feel I am a pack rat because of the books I don’t discard, even those I dislike. My excuse is that an idea even tho “discredited” represents “a stone unturned” in the constant search for morsels of truth. I cringe at the thought that my copies of 1905 and 1912 of the Philippine Commission Reports to the US Congress will go to the garbage when I am no longer around. I bought them for peanuts at a 2nd/3rd-hand bookstore. I found for instance in those reports what US Geodetic ships charted the coastlines of the Philippines! These charts are still the ones used today, my strong guess. Yikes I am now one of those raggedy beachcombers with a metal detector scanning for whatever. 🙂

              • karl garcia says:

                Thanks Sonny.Based on my guess(from the timeline ) you are a contemporary of my dad give or take a few years. So pardon me if I treat you or any other commenter like they are the same age as I am. My suggestion for the hard to let go books is to find the nearest library, because of more chances that they won’t be discarded.As to those charts donate to the national library here in the Philippines.
                Happy Valentines!.

              • Maxie says:

                Unfortunately, our National Library and Museum do not have facilities that protect rare books, etc from humidity, moisture and dust. Last year I helped my cousin’s American wife look for a good place to donate photos her father took of Manila immediately after Liberation. We were happy to have found that the Ortigas Foundation Library had (has) the capability to catalogue and preserve vintage photos, books, maps.

              • sonny says:

                Don’t worry about the age difference, Karl. My older son will be 43, born n raised here but I wish I taught him Tagalog n Ilocano, growing up. This is a big regret.

                If you are the oldest among your siblings, yes your dad and I would be contemporaries. This is good. Venture a guess, he went to a US War College?

              • karl garcia says:

                I am second among siblings,same age as your son. dad=pma59 schooled in naval post graduate, short courses somewehere else,….i see an old jacket (war college) maybe it’s just a souvineer.

                nice to have this conversation, but we might be warned about chatroom like exchanges, I hope not,though

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