MANILA, Philippines — Members of the House of Representatives crossed party lines to oppose Tuesday plans by some senators to conduct an inquiry into military operations in Mindanao, calling these ill-timed and likely to demoralize the troops.
Senators, among them former Armed Forces chief Rodolfo Biazon, have announced plans to launch a probe of the operations, especially against the Abu Sayyaf in Sulu, after the deaths of 26 soldiers in two clashes in August 9, the largest single-day military loss in recent years.
But Isabela Representative Edwin Uy, an administration ally, said in a statement: “We believe the probe initiative of some senators is ill-timed. This is not the right time to put our armed forces at the center of investigation as it will only divert the attention of military officials from their ongoing operations against terrorist hideouts in Sulu.”
“What the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) needs now is full support, not blame, from politicians,” Uy said.
Opposition Representative Roilo Golez of Parañaque also opposed any congressional inquiry of the operations, saying in a text message that the legislature “should not interfere while this military offensive is in progress.”
The calls for a probe of the military offensives, including that in Basilan against the suspects in the beheading of 10 Marines last July 10, have also led President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to warn politicians against exploiting the situation for partisan motives.
Uy echoed Arroyo’s call, saying it would be “unseemly” to exploit the military’s setbacks as a tool for propaganda.
“It will only demoralize the soldiers who are in the middle of a full scale offensive in Mindanao,” Uy said.
Golez said he favored an all-out offensive in Basilan and Sulu even while peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front are ongoing. He said an offensive is needed to prevent armed groups from using the lull to build up their forces and expand the territory they claim to control.
“To minimize the collateral damage, the military must follow their offensive with civic action,” Golez suggested.