MILF-decommissioned WW I and II rifles, retirees

I continue to be astonished at how gullible President Aquino is, and thinks the nation as gullible as he.

In his speech the other day at the “ceremonial decommissioning of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) combatants” during which they surrendered 75 firearms, Aquino said: “We are not speaking of just one, two, or a dozen weapons. These are some of the highest-grade weapons; these are not outmoded units. They are modern firearms.”

Baloney, sources in the military who were at the ceremonies in a Sultan Kudarat town claimed.

You don’t have to believe my sources. Examine yourself the accompanying photos of the MILF arms surrendered as Aquino and MILF chairman Murad Ibrahim look on.

It is so plain to see that nearly half of the rifles have brown-colored stocks, or the rifles’ bodies which house the barrel and firing mechanisms.

These are wooden stocks used in World War I and II rifles, such as the US infantry’s Springfield M1903 rifles and M-1 carbines. No “highest grade weapons” use wood. A high-tech polymer material is used in all modern assault rifles so they would weigh much less, and make them withstand the harshest of weathers.

A photo released by the Office of the Presidential Adviser for the Peace Process showed the World War I Springfield M1903 bolt-action rifles and WW II carbines. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Springfields were captured in the Battle of Bud Bagsak of 1913, the last major battle between US and Muslim troops in Mindanao, and when the famous rifle was battle-tested by the US cavalry. Note in the photo that a third of the arms have the long barrels characteristic of World War I rifles, since high-velocity bullets had not been invented at that time.

Museum pieces surrendered, or sold for P25,000 each? Above, Aquino viewing the MILF’s “decommissioned” weapons. Below, OPAPP photo showing WW I Springfield rifles and World War II M1 Carbines surrendered at the ceremonies.
Museum pieces surrendered, or sold for P25,000 each? Above, Aquino viewing the MILF’s “decommissioned” weapons. Below, OPAPP photo showing WW I Springfield rifles and World War II M1 Carbines surrendered at the ceremonies.

From the photo, I can count four AK-47s, which the MILF, however, never used, as Malaysia had provided insurgents with Armalites from the start. There appears to be five Armalites, which even from a distant photo look damaged.

For the show, though, the MILF surrendered three of its deadly weapons of choice now, the sniper rifle “Baret” and several pieces of mortar artillery. But how do we know that these Baret rifles are not among the defective ones made when the MILF was still experimenting on how to make them?

Several launchers for rocket-propelled grenades (RPG) were surrendered, but I had seen these myself fabricated by the MILF back in 1996. The mortar-launchers the MILF surrendered look impressive, but these are essentially steel tubes that any machine shop can fabricate, as the Irish Republican Army in the 1970s demonstrated with deadly efficiency. What’s difficult to manufacture are the mortar projectiles and the grenades themselves­—do you see any among those surrendered in the photos?

How modern rifles look

Compare the photo of the MILF’s decommissioned arms with the accompanying photo of rifles that the Islamic insurgents wrenched from the bodies of the Special Action Forces they massacred. That is how a stack of real modern rifles would look.

“Just look at the surrendered arms, you can’t just ignore the possibility that all these are damaged, unusable arms,” a military man who was at the ceremony told me. “They could have given us the junk of their armory, in short,” he said.

And Aquino gave P25,000 for each junk rifle? Don’t we have a Commission on Audit to stop such atrocious overpricing? Or would Aquino claim they were expensive antiques?

I may be wrong, though. But why haven’t Aquino’s officials or the foreign-staffed “Independent Decommissioning Body” (IDB) released an inventory of the weapons the MILF surrendered, and a certification by professionals that these are all in working condition?

In the case of the SAF arms the MILF returned, there were inspectors right there at the turnover who examined the guns, immediately inventoried them, and reported to the public which were damaged or had missing parts.

What modern arms look like: Massacred SAF troops’ rifles stolen by MILF returned.
What modern arms look like: Massacred SAF troops’ rifles stolen by MILF returned.

There was no such inspection by our military of what Aquino claimed were high-grade weapons the MILF surrendered to prove their sincerity in the peace talks.

As old as the WWII carbines surrendered were most of the purported 145 guerillas “decommissioned.”

Were there journalists who actually interviewed them to find out if they were really MILF guerrillas or if they were just farmers asked if they would like to get P25,000 by wearing a Green shirt? Or maybe they were really MILF guerrillas, but they certainly looked like those whom Murad wanted to retire.

I joined an MILF squad’s march through mountainous terrain the whole day in 1995, and I can’t imagine that those grey-haired guerrillas who were supposedly decommissioned could go through such a trek. If they were MILF guerrillas, they most likely were instructors or supply clerks in the insurgents’ many camps.

In surrender ceremonies of both jihadist and communist guerrillas in the past—even during the time of President Magsaysay—the de rigueur photo was for a guerrilla turning over his rifle to a government representative, usually a general.

There wasn’t such a single photo, even for ceremonial purposes in the MILF “decommissioning.” Why? Because the purported guerrillas refused to go that far, and agreed only to be videotaped and photographed while government clerks behind their laptops interviewed them to get their personal information?

This decommissioning brouhaha is another episode that makes a fool of Aquino, and I’d bet the MILF leaders rolled on the ground in laughter after witnessing it.

What we should be outraged over is that even if the MILF had surrendered their most deadly, usable arms, it would be tantamount to nothing, a charade, because of the stupid terms our negotiators agreed to for such “decommissioning.” The negotiators even amateurishly tried to hide these terms by putting them only as one of the annexes to the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro.

75 rifles and that’s it

The 75 weapons the MILF decommissioned will be all they would surrender until they get what they want—the enactment of the BBL that would be a quantum leap for their project to set up their independent Islamic state.

Those 75 arms are nothing, because by even the most conservative estimate, the MILF has at least 30,000 high-powered rifles. Warlord Datu Ampatuan of the Maguindanao Massacre infamy could produce ten times more than that with a snap of his fingers if he were asked to do so for a show.

Compare that to what the Indonesian government demanded, and got, from the insurgent Free Aceh Movement in 2005 to kick-start their peace settlement: the surrender of 840 rifles. And by the most conservative estimate, that insurgent group had only 3,000 arms.

The Indonesian peace pact also stipulated that the insurgents would demobilize “all of its 3,000 military troops. . . and they will not wear uniforms or display military insignia or symbols after the singing of the pact.” The Aceh insurgents also agreed to decommission its armaments in just four months, from September 2005 to December 2005.

How many did the MILF agree to demobilize and in how many months?

No number of arms was given, no time frame.

The agreement merely specifies that 30 percent of its arms will be decommissioned “after the ratification of the BBL,” according to the Framework Agreement’s annexes.

A further 35 percent will be decommissioned only after “the establishment and operationalization of the police force of the Bangsamoro.” The remaining 15 percent will be decommissioned after the signing of an “Exit Agreement,” when the MILF says it is satisfied that Aquino’s promises to it have been fulfilled.

I really can’t understand why Congress—we—can’t be outraged by such an agreement.

In the first place, percentages are given but the base of it is not: The MILF might as well claim that its has only 2,000 arms, so that 30 percent of this would just be 600 arms, and not 9,000, if one uses the conservative estimate of 30,000 arms in the possession of the jihadist insurgent group.

The MILF, therefore, could simply surrender some of their arms, and hide the bulk, and the government would have no basis to protest since the peace pact didn’t agree on a number of arms the insurgents had.

More importantly, what all these mean is that the MILF will “disarm” only when it has its own Moro Nation-State (the literal meaning of Bangsamoro) which the BBL would set up, and when it has its own armed force established, in the guise of a Bangsamoro Police.

Where are the surrendered rifles being kept? Not in any of our military camps, since the MILF didn’t want that.

As the agreement stipulated, these were brought to some storage area supervised by foreign-staffed IDB. Don’t worry, though, as the agreement stipulated, the storage area “is secured. . . with a fence, including a gate with a lock. A single lock provided by the IDB will secure the storage . . . A 24-hour surveillance camera provided by the IDB will cover the storage site and will be monitored from the IDB office.”

What a farce the MILF’s decommissioning really is. And the MILF makes fools of us all when it surrenders junk from its arsenal, and claims it proves their sincerity.

For trying to fool us to believe the sham that is the “Bangsamoro” and that the MILF will lay down its arms if we just give them their territory, Aquino should be tried for treason, together with his negotiators and his mouthpiece in Congress, Rufus Rodriguez.