“IF WE knew this (Maute attack in Marawi City) would happen, we would not have gone (to Russia). That is why we came home immediately,” Philippine National Police chief Ronald De la Rosa said. “We are not Madame Auring who can predict what’s in the mind of the enemy.”
I agree. There was no failure of intelligence. It was more a failure of command. No less than Solicitor General Jose Calida admitted before the Supreme Court that as early as May 18, they already have the information on Maute group’s plan to raze Marawi City on the day of Ramadan on May 26 and hoist the Isis flag.
What then is the value of intelligence if the command failed to act on the information?
Then something much closer, the Negros Island Region security alert has been heightened, following a raid on a police station in Iloilo by suspected New People's Army guerillas.
The raid on the Iloilo police station happened a day after the 3rd Infantry Division sent its 82nd Infantry Battalion to Lanao del Sur to help suppress the terror activities of the Maute Group.
Senior Superintendent Rodolfo Castil, officer-in-charge of the Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office, said that he has placed all police stations and public safety forces on full alert status.
This is starting to look like a trend. Our security forces are caught napping. As the Metro Manilans would say, “natutulog sa pansitan.”
As the Americans would say, that’s like closing the barn door after the cows have fled. Or when the cat’s away, the mice will play.
Last time I checked the news, the members of New People's Army are still pretty much around, despite the on-off peace talks. Of course, they will play – and the government pays – for such security lapses.
And now, no less than President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the government forces to specifically guard the waters between Dipolog, Zamboanga del Norte and Dumaguete, Negros Oriental to prevent the Maute terror group from entering Visayas.
Now what will the Visayan Command do if another attack happens and our security forces are caught flatfooted again?
During the Roman empire, its army practiced “Decimation,” a form of military discipline used by senior commanders in the Roman Army to punish units or large groups guilty of capital offenses, such as mutiny, desertion, or falling asleep while on sentry duty. The word decimation is derived from Latin meaning “removal of a tenth.”
There’s no need for such harsh treatment. But there should be command responsibility. Let’s not blame the grunts. Let the commanders face the music for failure of command.