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The Mamasapano Debacle

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    CONTROVERSIAL, PROVOCATIVE. Go ahead and discuss. A former general speaks — and with a large measure of contempt — on the PNP and the Philippine political elite in general.

    I may not agree with some of his views, and some are scathing about the dead. But I believe he deserves to be heard.
    So, go ahead and comment and argue, friends. But please do it with civility. And scrap those personal slurs, especially those that refer to mental or gender issues… you can do better than that. Salamat po. And salamat, Nick Sotelo, for sharing this. – Inday Varona

    Written by: LT. GEN. ANTONIO EDUARTE SOTELO, AFP (retired), former AFP Vice Chief of Staff & Commanding General-PAF

    THE MAMASAPANO DEBACLE

    By now, with all the investigations and interviews of those involved, we have a good idea of what happened in Mamasapano, Maguindanao. It was a comedy of errors from beginning to end. The mission was engulfed with incompetence and cowardice. And the investigations exposed the kind of people we are and the institutions we have.

    Did we really expect the PNP to be able to do a good job in such a serious task of going to war?

    Look at the record of the PNP and the government in general. The PNP buys helicopters but it can’t even distinguish what is brand new from the used one. Now, there is talk that only 4 of 14 rifle grenades were effective. How can the PNP buy the proper armaments when it can’t even purchase a usable rubber boat? The former chief is languishing in jail because of fraud in the repair of its armoured personnel carriers. An entire police detachment (and God knows how many others) is involved in car napping. We read in the papers almost every day, the foolishness committed by its personnel from top to bottom. If space were not a constraint, I could fill this page with a litany of misconduct that PNP personnel are attributed to.

    Look at our national government. It is full of liars. It can’t run a train whose technology dates back to the 18th century. It can’t fix the traffic jams. It takes six stops with long queues in six stations to travel some 150 kilometres. The roads it repairs are washed out on the first rain. Need I say more?

    We send athletes abroad, win no medals and the head says they had done a good job. We are content with mediocrity.

    Our country is a joke; a reflection of the quality of leaders we had and have. That is why no country respects us and we, the Filipino people are looked down upon everywhere.

    After the debacle, the politicians are stepping on each other’s toes giving this or that reward. To be sure, I am for that but let us be discriminating. Many of those killed or participants are not deserving of anything. Why were some texting their loved ones in the midst of battle? When the bulk of them were ordered to reinforce the 55th SAC, they did not try hard enough to help their beleaguered comrades. Proof– no one was killed or even wounded!

    Had all those 392 SAF troopers fight gallantly in a coordinated way, there is no telling all could have been killed really, but they could have inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy. They had the strategic advantage as they were the “firstest” and “mostest” at the scene. And had the Army been thrown into battle, perhaps, we should be the ones celebrating a great victory and unexpectedly, now in a negotiating position of strength for the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

    That was a lost opportunity. Indeed, the conduct of the PNP-SAF in Mamasapano is a microcosm of the Filipino character and his institutions, a legacy from a long series of corruption, mediocrity and incompetence through the years.

    To the Filipino nation, look around!! We have been in this rut for the longest time! We can overcome this if we as a people show our outrage at corruption, mediocrity and mendicancy. We must be angry and show our demand for good governance, excellence and self-reliance from our leaders. Only then do we expect our fighting forces to bring those values to the battle field.

    ANTONIO EDUARTE SOTELO
    Lt. Gen., AFP (retired)
    [email protected]

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