Military asked to explain ‘real situation’ in South

By Dona Pazzibugan
Last updated 02:57am (Mla time) 08/11/2007

MANILA, Philippines—Sen. Richard Gordon on Friday called on the military to explain “the real situation” in the country’s southern region, where 26 soldiers have died in fighting with Moro gunmen in recent days.


“While we offer our sympathies to the families of the fallen, we have to look more closely into why our troops are suffering this high level of casualties,” Gordon said.


“I believe Congress and the public deserve to know more about the real situation in the South so that appropriate adjustments—whether in policy or program or materiel or logistics—can be made and better support to our troops can be provided,” said Gordon.


Gordon urged President Macapagal-Arroyo to order a “top-level” military briefing on how military operations, including troop morale and logistics and intelligence support, “are really faring in Mindanao and Sulu.”


He said lawmakers should be included in the briefing.


“This is not a question of assigning blame or pointing fingers. This is just a matter of how we can all pull together for the improvement of the situation in the South,” he said.


Whip them into line


Senate Majority Leader Francis Pangilinan called on Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro to “exercise the political will to rid the Armed Forces of the Philippines of incompetents and whip the generals and soldiers into line so that we can make major headway in achieving a just, honorable and lasting peace in the country in our lifetime.”


Malacañang said yesterday the series of losses suffered by soldiers in Sulu did not necessitate a changing of the guard at the Armed Forces.


Presidential Management Staff head Cerge Remonde said: “This is not the time for finger-pointing.”


“It’s time to rally behind our troops and allow the Armed Forces leadership enough latitude to sort out things among themselves,” said Remonde in a text message. With a report from Michael Lim Ubac


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