Military’s old ammunition stock concerns Philippine defense chief

BenarNews staff
Military’s old ammunition stock concerns Philippine defense chief Philippine troops prepare for deployment to the southern city of Marawi, June 11, 2017.
Jason Gutierrez/BenarNews

The Philippine armed forces face a potential ammunition shortage after shifting to a “non-lethal” approach toward a long-running communist insurgency as well as Muslim militant groups in the south, the country’s new defense chief said Monday.

Soon after President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. appointed him defense secretary earlier this month, Carlito Galvez Jr. said that his predecessor, Jose Faustino Jr., apprised him about safety dates for ammunition nearing expiration.

“During one of the briefings to me, during the formal turnover [of leadership], it has come to my attention that there is a high level of wastage in ammunition in the different branches of the armed forces. We should avoid this from happening,” Galvez told reporters.

“We have to take care and conserve our department’s logistical resources, including the armed forces. We should focus on preventing wastage at all levels of the organization,” he said.

Galvez said the old ammunition likely was a result of troops shifting to “civil military operations” in an effort to use dialogue to bring an end to insurgencies.

“There are no major incidents in Mindanao and also in other areas so it’s a good indication that really we are winning the war against our communist insurgency. Also, peace-inclined organizations are really now going with us and also joining us in the government,” Galvez said.

The defense secretary did not give details of the ammunition inventory, but said the military was looking at the possibility of finding a new use for some of the ammunition.

“What we will do is we will convert these ammunitions into training ammo and hopefully we can have some procedures on how we can really prevent what we call wastage. As of now, they are not really wasted, we are looking at the possibility of using them,” he said.

Military history

Accusations of corruption and graft have long dogged the military, particularly in the procurement of war materiel. In February 2011, former military chief Angelo Reyes took his own life after allegations surfaced that he had embezzled about a million dollars.

Reyes was the commander of the armed forces for President Joseph Estrada, but withdrew his support for Estrada in 2001 over charges that the president had received payoffs from operators of an illegal numbers game.

Estrada denied the allegations, but was impeached. He later vacated the presidential palace and was placed under arrest, only to be pardoned by his successor, Gloria Arroyo.

She later crushed a mutiny by junior military officers who accused their generals of corruption.

More recently, much of the southern city of Marawi was destroyed in 2017 when Islamic State-linked militants from the region and the Middle East seized the city and engaged the military in five months of fighting, resulting in about 1,200 deaths of militants, troops and civilians.

Elsewhere, communist rebels operate in strongholds in the south, although the military has said the guerrillas’ firepower and strength have substantially weakened.

Jojo Riñoza and Basilio Sepe in Manila contributed to this report.


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