Who will be held accountable for the “unwanted consequences” of battle?

MAKATI, Philippines – “This (formed part of what we call) unwanted consequences of battle but we have achieved a strategic victory because we now hold a very important strong area of the Abu Sayyaf which will deny them a very strong mass base support,”

This was the response of Maj. Gen. Ben Dolorfino, commander of the Western Mindanao Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, when interviewed after the operation to capture an Abu Sayyaf camp in Basilan.

The three dots between this paragraph and the previous one reflect my being stumped at how to go about expressing my sense of outrage at the seeming incompetence of the military leadership of the AFP and the civilian authorities that it is subservient to. That is the big picture. The statement itself appears to minimize the sacrifice of 23 of Maj. Gen. Dolorfino’s men. Parang na-gloss over yung pagkamatay ng tao niya.

What also galls me is that in all the news reports that we see, the statements over the death of the 23 soldiers is followed by statements along the lines of – “but we killed 31 of the enemy”. Parang okay lang na 23 sundalo ang namatay kasi mas marami naman na nadali sa kalaban. Uuuuggghhhh…

“Ako talaga nagtataka kung bakit alam nila ang movement namin. Kung di pa malakas ang loob namin, tiyak tapos na kaming lahat (I’m wondering why they know our movements. If we were not brave enough, we would have been wiped out).”

– Private First Class Randy Liboon of the 4th Scout Ranger Company

“That is one factor. We have been asking the MILF leadership to control its ground commanders because we are in peace talks with them.”

– AFP spokesman Lt. Col. Romeo Brawner on how the MILF is messing up the AFP campaign against the Abu Sayyaf

“Throughout the armed engagement we were closely in touch with the GRP-CCCH. Then the following day we were informed that there were 9 MILF members killed in Basilan…we were assured by the MILF leadership in Basilan that they will not participate in the armed engagement. It was unfortunate na masaring for reasons related sa Abu Sayyaf di na-control ng leadership ng MILF sa Basilan (The MILF in Basilan assured us they will not take part in the engagement. It was unfortunate they apparently could not control their own men).”

– Dolorfino

“Maraming beses na itong nangyari. Ang tawag kasi nila dito ay pintakasi”

– Brawner on why MILF men may have come to the aid of the Abu Sayyaf going on to explain that pintakasi is when relatives rush in aid of another relative in trouble

Ugh…ugh…ugh…ugh…

It is unfortunate that by reading the newspapers alone Private Liboon will probably stop wondering why the enemy knew they were coming. Pvt. Liboon and his comrades were given away by their own commanders. This is a case where if it weren’t tragic, it would be LOL funny. Alam na pala ng mga taga-AFP from experience na matitimbre ang Abu Sayyaf by coordinating with the MILF bakit pa nila ginawa? Kung takot sila na ma-violate yung peace (???) negotiations, di dapat hindi na nila tinuloy yung attack kasi operational security would be compromised. Yun – na-compromise nga.

“All throughout the day until night, there was no letup in the fighting. We were getting hungry and weak. Then our reinforcements were ambushed.”

Private First Class Joel Alano

Why is it that the reinforcements always get ambushed? You’d think they would have learned by now.

“It was a slugfest.”

– Dolorfino

It seems this description has been drilled into the heads of our military leaders when describing a firefight. Do they realize that the “fest” in slugfest refers to a festival? I’m pretty sure that their men will tell them there is nothing festive about any firefight.

I have no doubt that Gen. Dolorfino (or anyone for that matter) has thought that his firing from the job will be another “unwanted consequence” (at least from his point of view) of this disaster. At the end of the day, he should hold himself accountable for this needless loss of life.

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