Mar 172015
The military did its best to provide the Philippine National Police’s Special Action Force with support during the January 25 Mamasapano clash despite the limited information and time they had, the Armed Forces of the Philippines said Tuesday.

“Ginawa nila ang kanilang makakaya ayon sa information given to them during that time,” said AFP public affairs chief Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc at a press briefing on Tuesday. “Kung suriin natin mabuti, may mga tropa na galing pang ibang probinsya, Sultan Kudarat, na pinadala to help out with just limited information.”

Cabunoc said this after Senator Grace Poe on Tuesday sided with the AFP’s claim that it could not have provided artillery support to the PNP during the encounter, given the time they had been informed of the need, as launching an air strike requires ample time to prepare.

“I respect what the military said—that you cannot just deploy, for example, air support at the last minute. You cannot just fire artillery support because of the friendly forces on the ground. There was also no forward observers, and also where exactly are the enemy forces on the ground,” Poe said.

Poe’s statement runs contrary to the findings of the PNP Board of Inquiry, which also investigated the Mamasapano incident.

In its report released last week, the PNP BOI said the AFP could have provided the PNP Special Action Force (SAF) the most needed artillery support as the area was wide and there were no civilians on the ground.

The BOI report concluded that the AFP did not provide the artillery support “when needed most because Major General Edmundo Pangilinan, Division Commander of 6ID, considered the ongoing peace process and protocols in the use of artillery.”

Asked if the peace agreement with the MILF had hindered their operations, Cabunoc declined to comment.

However, he stressed that the military remains committed to the peace process. — BM, GMA News

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