MANILA – Senator Juan Edgardo ‘Sonny’ Angara has stressed the need to fully equip the Special Action Force (SAF) of the Philippine National Police (PNP) to improve further their capability to combat terrorism.
”I think we have to fully equip our men going forward,” Angara said after learning from a recent Senate inquiry that the SAF commandos had run out of ammunition and had to ask reinforcement from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and medical evacuation from the United States during the bloody Mamasapano encounter in Maguindanao last Jan. 25.
A total of 44 SAF troopers were killed while 15 others were wounded when they encountered combined forces of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).
”It’s pitiful that our troops wanted to fight but have no capability due to lack of equipment,” Angara said.
Angara said the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs should look into the lack of equipment.
”Gen. (Getulio) Napenas mentioned that they have no precision-guided weapons,” Angara said.
”We’re asking the police, which is a civilian organization, to perform anti-insurgency operations or like military operations and yet they don’t seem equipped for it,” he added.
During the hearing, Napenas confirmed that based on the account of 55th company’s lone survivor PO2 Christopher Lalan, the SAF commandos had run out of ammunition although they carried more than the 360-round basic load.
”My point here is let us examine the lack of equipment of our SAF troops because we’re asking the SAF and the PNP to perform operations which are not really their essential functions,” Angara told the Senate panel that is investigating the deadly Mamasapano encounter.
In the same hearing, Angara also learned from Napenas that each of the SAF elite forces receives only PhP240 monthly hazard pay and combat pay worth PhP1,020 for every quarter.
The SAF operation dubbed as “Oplan Exodus” in Mamasapano resulted to the killing of high-profile terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir but the SAF also lost 44 brave commandos due to delayed arrival of reinforcements during the entire day of firefight.