Aquino tells AFP: Review operation plans, rules of engagement

October 21, 2011 9:37 pm 

By Joel C. Atencio

MANILA, Oct. 21 – President Benigno S. Aquino III, in his capacity as commander-in-chief, Friday directed the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to review the military operational plans and rules of engagement (ROE) in every move against insurgents.

The President gave this marching order to prevent another incident similar to what happened in Basilan early this week, according to AFP deputy chief of staff for operations Brig. Gen. Jose Mabanta after three-hour command conference in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

Nineteen government troopers were killed in alleged firefight with members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Al Barka, Basilan Tuesday.

President Aquino arrived at about 2:30 p.m. at the AFP general headquarters (GHQ) and met with top military officials until 4:25 p.m. He left hastily without granting an interview to a horde of Malacañang and defense beat reporters waiting for him at the GHQ canopy.

An hour later, Mabanta went down to meet the Malacañang and Defense beat reporters.

Mabanta told reporters that the President was not happy with the performance of the military in Mindanao, especially in Basilan.

“We updated the President on what happened on the ground from day one to the day we got intelligence report. He understand what went through and he gave specific guidance what things needs to be done,” Mabanta said.

“Firstly, the President wanted the military to review the organizational set up in very critical areas in Sulu and in Basilan. He wanted our boys over there to do better and move on,” Mabanta said.

"The place where the encounter happened is more than four kilometers away from the Area of Temporary Stay (ATS)," Mabanta said.

ATS is an agreed designated area by the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front where forces of the separatist can stay to prevent a misencounter.

Mabanta said the AHJAG coordination is “only needed” when government troops is conducting an operation within the identified ATS. (PNA) RMA/JCA

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