President Benigno Aquino III expressed dissatisfaction over the Armed Forces’ performance and even ordered the military to reorganize following the attacks that left 26 soldiers and policemen dead in Mindanao.
“He (Aquino) expressed dissatisfaction of the series of events that happened starting with Taganito… with the performance of the Armed Forces,” AFP deputy chief of staff for operations Brig. Gen. Jose Mabanta said in a briefing Friday afternoon.
Aquino earlier presided over a command conference with military officers in Camp Aguinaldo and left 4:30 p.m. without facing the media.
Military officers briefed Aquino on recent incidents, including attacks by the New People’s Army on three mining firms in Surigao del Norte, the clash with Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters in Basilan that left 19 soldiers dead, and ambuscades by the MILF that left seven dead among security forces in Zamboanga Sibugay.
The officials did not recommend a suspension of the ceasefire in order to pursue MILF forces in Basilan, Mabanta said.
“It has not been discussed… There is no hot pursuit operation conducted against the MILF at this point in time because of the existing ceasefire mechanism,” he said.
“Wala tayong planong ganun, first and foremost… peace is still on top of our minds, eventually we want to attain peace and we have to wait,” he added.
Mabanta, however, said that was not the same for MILF forces that staged two ambuscades in Zamboanga Sibugay.
“We are conducting full offensive military operation against them at this point in time,” he said.
Meanwhile, the President gave “specific guidance” to review the military’s organizational set up in “critical areas” like Jolo and Basilan.
“Ang tinitingnan natin are things that have to be undertaken, look at changes in the organization web, the need to reorganize… we need to upgrade our capabilities,” Mabanta said.
Asked how the military took the President’s dissatisfaction, Mabanta said, “We took it in good stride and we will have to step up our operation and improve.”
Mabanta, a former military spokesman, denied that there was “demoralization” among officers, but admitted he is saddened by the death of soldiers. (John Roson)
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