D&S 2017: Manila to continue engaging militants
Muslim separatists on the southern island of Mindanao have been engaged in an insurgency against Manila since the 1960s, and the Philippine military came a step closer to ending that conflict by retaking Marawi City on 23 October from Islamic insurgents who had captured the city on 23 May.
Three days after declaring the city free of terrorists and insurgents, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte ordered his new chief-of-staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Lt Gen Rey Leonardo Guerrero, to form ten new infantry battalions (approximately 5,000 soldiers) to eradicate remaining insurgents on Mindanao plus the communist New People’s Army with operations in the rural areas of Luzon just outside Manila.
Beyond guerrilla-style military operations, both organisations resort to terrorist and criminal tactics, including extortion, kidnapping and assassination.
Guerrero could be the perfect leader to deal with both groups. A member of the AFP’s special forces, Guerrero, nicknamed ‘Jagger’, served as commander of the Davao-based Eastern Mindanao Command until the 25 October announcement of his ascension as the new chief-of-staff.
Manila has had little trouble procuring small arms and equipment to take on rebel groups, no matter their respectable differences on global military strategy.
In July, China donated 3,000 assault rifles and five million rounds of ammunition, including 90 sniper rifles with 800,000 rounds. The rifles included three types: Type 85 7.62mm Dragunov-style sniper rifles, NSG-1 (CS/LR4A) 7.62mm sniper rifles and CQ-A5 (M4 carbine-style) 5.56mm assault rifles. All of these are produced by the Chinese arms manufacturer Norinco.
In September, the Philippine government announced that Glock Asia Pacific had won a contract to supply 74,861 Glock 17 Gen4 9mm pistols to the military for $24.3 million. The order included three 17-round magazines per pistol, and the weapon will feature the new trigger system that will become standard on future Gen5 pistols.
Then in October, Russia donated 5,000 7.62mm AKM assault rifles with one million rounds of ammunition, 5,000 SSh-68 old-generation steel helmets and 20 Ural-4320 6x6 trucks. Moscow and Manila also signed a deal for RPG-7V rocket-propelled grenade launchers, which will be handled by Rosoboronexport.
The AFP traditionally favours the US 5.56mm round, but recent acquisitions of 7.62mm rifles brings up questions on how the army will integrate the two calibres in combat.