Lawmakers: AFP airstrike failure 'unfortunate'

AT LEAST three lawmakers on Thursday expressed disappointment over the killing of 11 government troops in Marawi City after the Armed Forces of the Philippines' (AFP) botched airstrike in the besieged area.

According to Muntinlupa Representative Ruffy Biazon, the failure of the military was "bound to happen" considering factors such as the military's use of outdated technology and other battlefield conditions.

"Under the existing conditions, it was bound to happen due to the prevailing conditions...the pace of the air strikes, the battlefield conditions such as urban close quarters combat, the means of delivery of the ordnance which is not of the latest precision technology," Biazon said in a statement.

The lawmaker also hinted that the AFP might not be trained enough to carry out such operation successfully.

"[Another problem was] the level of proficiency based on the training of the Air Force, the coordination between ground and air forces," he said.

For his part, Magdalo Partylist Representative Gary Alejano, who was part of the military himself prior to becoming a congressman, said that the AFP and the Department of National Defense should "reconsider" airstrike as a method in eliminating the terrorists in Marawi City.

"I call on the Secretary of National Defense, Delfin Lorenzana, to reconsider airstrikes and bombing runs and artillery bombardments in built-up areas as it will cause tremendous damage to the properties of the people of Marawi, aside from the possible friendly casualties it will create," Alejano said.

"Once the dust settles, the people of Marawi might not have homes anymore to go back to," he added.

Despite saying that mistakes like that are "unavoidable," both Alejano and Biazon said an investigation must still be conducted to determine what caused the failure that killed the government troops.

"An investigation should be conducted to find out the real cause, whether it was a human error on the side of the pilot, erroneous close air support request, training of the forward air controllers, uncoordinated ground movements, or technical issue of the aircraft and the ordinance delivered," Alejano said.

"The investigation by the AFP should first and foremost be done to determine any adjustment in tactics and later on for accountability and appropriate penalty if warranted," said Biazon.

Meanwhile, Davao Representative Karlo Nograles defended the military over their failure, saying such mistakes happen "during war."

"Casualties resulting to unexpected mishaps is certainly something that we should frown on but in war, things like this can happen. Miscommunication can happen amidst the chaos of war and our soldiers in the field, no matter how hard they train, may commit mistakes," he said.

The entire Mindanao was placed under martial law last May 23 following the attacks of the Isis-inspired Maute Group in Marawi City.

Since then the government has been trying hard to gain back its control of the city. (SunStar Philippines)
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