It’s another vow from the AFP and PNP – AFP, PNP vow to strengthen fight vs private armies. How exactly are they going to do this? Are they proposing anything new? Too much attention is being given to end-game activities while focus on information gathering and distribution is lacking. Twentieth century approaches to law enforcement are not enough in the 21st century battleground. Pangako – laging napapako.
The strategy outlined below does not show any deviation from what was being done by GMA previously. 8)
Citing records from the PNP Directorate for Intelligence, Verzosa said there were still 107 private armed groups, but only 65 of were active.
Among the roles of these joint task forces will be to arrest members of private armed groups and to confiscate loose or illegal firearms. Security forces will coordinate with local communities in combating lawless elements and there will be strict coordination between intelligence units of the PNP and AFP and the operating units on the field.
Verzosa said these joint task forces would be reporting directly to the directorates of integrated police operations in their respective regions.
“We are giving our territorial units and all units involved…to go after and assess the partisan armed groups to utilize operational processes and…to conduct arrest operations for those with warrants of arrests of members of partisan armed groups and to account for illegal firearms. It’s very important that the intelligence units of both the AFP and the PNP give the operating units the necessary information to affect the arrest and seizure,” Verzosa said during a press conference.
For the part of the AFP, David said they would be providing “muscle” to the PNP, including additional men on the field, intelligence staff, and other personnel as needed.
Verzosa said the joint task forces against private armed groups would help sustain their campaign against the lawless elements that began during the elections.
If there are are 107 private armed groups, with 65 being active – what’s stopping the remaining 42 from going active at anytime? All of the activities described are simply end-game actions. What’s not being said is what are these “operational processes” that will lead to arrests. Remember that faulty processes and faulty information can lead to wrong arrests – and there seems to be a lot of that. Worse there are lots of collateral damage due to botched planning and execution.
You can’t keep on “muscling” yourself into a solution. You need “brains and the central nervous system” inasmuch as you need “muscle”.
Garbage In, Garbage Out
The most critical part is gathering intelligence. A lot of missed targets can be attributed to:
- lack of assets
- lack of ability to sift through actionable intelligence
- incompetence of assets and field agents
- lack of tactical information
- lack of accurate and up-to-date information
- lack of access to information – on demand and in real-time
- corruption of agents and assets
- lack of funds!
A lot of this factors can screw up the information thereby leading to false and flawed premises, assessments, planning, conclusions – and with it – dire repercussions on the entire organization. And we have all of these in the Philippines. 8)
The Need to Innovate in Intelligence Gathering Capabilities
The AFP/PNP needs to innovate its intelligence gathering and information processing capabilities on these private armed groups. There are a variety of ways of doing this using IT. Allow AP to throw in some ideas on how they can stop “vowing” and actually start doing some serious work. Here you go.
1. Use websites – Setup a webpage where people can anonymously report data about private armies. Educate people about private armies. What to do. How to report. Where to report. Ensure confidentiality – dealings done through reference numbers – no personally identifiable information.
2. Use social networks – This is a virtual 24/7 hotline – Twitter and Facebook. This is an additional information gathering channel. Use the power of crowds.
3. Use Geographical Information Systems/Law Enforcement Portal – Information about the armed groups can be placed into a secure database – accessible via Secure PPTP. It can have an industrial SQL engine backend with a GIS Application as a front end. Better yet – utilize Google Earth for mapping the geographical characteristics of the various armed groups as well as monitoring the movement of people within these network of armed groups. It can also identify the politicians and what their relationships are to these armed groups. It can also track the AFP/PNP assets in the theater of operations. And it can be a central clearinghouse of information on private armed groups – status of operations – etc. Subject of course to the usual security clearances and biometric authentication devices.
4. Use 3G Phone Networks. The Philippines already has 3G phones. The AFP/PNP can have applications that allow their field agents and assets the ability to update field information in real-time.
5. Use GPS devices for tracking persons of interests in real-time. This can be integrated with the GIS application as well.
6. Upgrade the capabilities (and pay!) of its personnel in intelligence gathering and analysis and the use of this tools. Its personnel should be able to spot trends, connect the dots, and describe with great clarity the interactions between the various members of the private armed groups. The personnel will be able to trace the supply chain – from supply of guns and ammo – to the end user – the benefactors of the private armed groups.
The AFP/PNP should be able to pool the data into information which can be viewed in the manner which policy makers and tactical commanders see fit – timely, accurate, on demand, all the time. Integrating these technologies with humint – human intelligence – gathered through tradecraft.
By having accurate timely information, lives are saved, and the chances of acquiring the targets are higher.
To track the impact of these measures – it can monitor:
- the number of leads versus the number of convictions
- the number of convictions
- the number of private armed groups
- the cost of operating the above services versus the damage caused by private armed groups.
There’s always another alternative – just have a fall guy, make them admit in front of the press without due process – case closed.
Political Will and Appropriations
Appropriations for these type of projects will meet resistance. The emo groups will be protesting about civil liberties. By all means – protest. But don’t blame the AFP/PNP if you are shot because there are still more private armed groups to blame. The more private armed groups with unlicensed firearms you shut down – the better for everyone’s personal safety.
What if the actionable intelligence leads to members of Congress, the Senate, relatives, friends, and supporters of P. Noy? Will Congressmen approve more funds for such an undertaking or can this be covered under the existing budget of the AFP? What will be the spin? The bottom line really is political will.The AFP/PNP knows who these groups are. It has a vague idea and wants to keep it that way?
Or is it ready to deliver results?
Your guess is as good as mine.