'Demoralized' AFP officials plan to quit

By Jay Ruiz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 22 2011 08:04 PM | Updated as of Oct 23 2011 07:40 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Several senior military officers are upset over the results of Friday's command conference with President Benigno Aquino III.

Instead of holding the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) accountable for the deaths of 19 soldiers, it seems the commander-in-chief even blamed the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for the violence.

"I was dissatisfied with the performance of the Armed Forces," said Brigadier General Jose Mabanta, deputy chief of staff for operations of the AFP.

They also disagreed with the President's decision to stop pursuit operations against several members of the rebel group.

As a result, some officials are thinking about resigning, adding that it seems their hands are tied while fighting rebel groups like the MILF and the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).

The same officials were the ones who were dismayed after the government released members of the so-called Morong 43, who were said to be communist rebel leaders.

Colonel Alexander Macario, chief of special operations for Task Force Basilan, and Philippine Army spokesman Colonel Antonio Parlade have already been removed from their posts, according to the orders of the President.

Parlade had said there should be a selective ceasefire with the MILF to bring to justice the killers of his comrades.

But in a text message, Parlade said he has no regrets over his statements, adding that it is better for Filipinos to know the sentiments of many in the Armed Forces.

But the AFP denies the troops feel demoralized over the situation.

"The state of morale and the discipline of our troops remains high. So that's why I'm quite surprised [kung] bakit may reports na ganitong lumalabas," said Colonel Arnulfo Burgos, AFP spokesman.

For now, only time will tell if the senior officials will decide to leave their posts.