Can the AFP/PNP Fulfill its Vows on Eradicating Private Armed Groups?

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.

Classic Methods

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.

Tracking Performance

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.



  1. FreeSince09 · ·

    Short answer, the AFP and PNP are oftentimes the armed goons themselves.

  2. Sidelines for soldiers and police? Like in the Hacienda Luisita massacre?

    I wonder, were they really soldiers and police there, or were there private army members disguised as such? I’m sure there was some of the latter.

  3. Do you think conscription would work against the PAGs? Just asking for an opinion.

  4. What exactly do you have in mind about conscription? Integrate the members of the private armed groups into the AFP. It depends on whether they pass the requirements of the AFP/PNP.

    The ARMM-PNP has a lot of former MNLF who were integrated into the service.

  5. Not just that, BongV. Why not take it further by doing a Switzerland and arm the people — create an armed citizenry? Territorials, reservists, the like.

  6. ulong pare · ·

    … daaang

    … @BongV: uniformed thugs to eradicate kapwa unifomed thugs? hmmm hmmm hmmm

    … back in a day, i was one of the flipland’s hardcore “screaming eagles”… good ol’ nichols air base… :mrgreen:

    … bottle ooopsie battle hardened and ready to fight…. payt…. fayt…. 😳

    … i saw and encountered the maggots, not in the ranks but in the brass…

    … not my cup of tea… kaya heto, basurero ang bagsak… 😳

  7. @AJ – I am for a responsible armed citizenry.

    The dilemma is this – current irresponsible Pinoy culture and arms don’t mix. We’ll wind up like Rwanda.

    We actually have lots of mini-Rwandas all over the Philippines – where the local ethnic warlords act with impunity.

    Not to mention that an oligarch-centric government is wary of an armed citizenry 😆

  8. @up – ayun nga eh. nakikipaglokohan na naman ang AFP/PNP.

  9. yung ma dating tirador ng DDS – Davao Death Squad – accdg to former DDS who are still alive, only the small-fish are shot.

    The big fish are not being shot – and they big time pushers might actually be bankrolling the bounties being paid to kill the small-time drug pushers.

    That defeats the purpose of Davao’s vigilanteeism.

  10. Hyden Toro · ·

    We have Political Dynasties, Provincial Warlords, and Private Armies. Because these factors were tolerated and are being tolerated by all administrations. They are the sources of Political Supports and Votes. This is just the reason. If you don’t have the support of these Political Warlords; who help also in the CHEATINGS of every elections. You can never win in any National Election. The Maguindanao Tragedy done by the Ampatuan Political Warlords; are an example of Political Warlordism, gone wrong.

    A strong and unchallenged Police Force and Armed Forces, must be the priority of every administration. If every President will tolerate these factors cited. We will always have: political warlordisms; political family dynasties, election frauds and cheatings; election terrorism; unstable peace and order; etc…It is very hard job to dismantle these Private Armies. Because, you will surely step in Sensitive Toes. The trouble is: these people can kill and shoot back; if they are treathened to have their powers taken away. However, it can be done…

  11. ulong pare · ·

    … daaaang

    … dr abu strikes again…

    … ka-ching!… ka-ching… kwarta na naman…. :mrgreen:

  12. ulong pare · ·

    … daaang

    @Hyden T: afghanistan, somalia, etc… countries controlled by feuding warlords…90% illiterate religioous gung gongs… no functioning govt… all failed states…

    … flipland, controlled by political clans, modern day warlords… 80% katolick gung gongs… dysfunctional govt… a failed state…

    … flips are morally bankrupt… thrive in an illusion of ‘sang bendisyon lang ni padre damaso, san pedro would open the gate… :mrgreen:

  13. ulong pare · ·

    … daaang

    … @BongV: PMA class 1978 were the ate glo mistahs during her reign…

    … PMA upper clansmen are the current prez gung gong mistahs…

    … mistahs are ninongs of political clans/oligarchs… they are all well paid from their respective bossings’ tenures…

  14. exactamente. abu strikes. AFP generals request funds for more combat pay, hazard pay, purchase of uniforms, ammo, supplies – kaching kaching na naman.

  15. true that… so how can the AFP/PNP really go after the private armed groups when the AFP/PNP elements moonlight as members of this private armed groups.

    Por ehemplo – Retired General or Colonel sets up security agency – then hires dishonorably discharged servicemen – including elements on active duty but who want to moonlight. Or they moonlight as plantation guards of a sugar plantation.

    The Private Armed Groups are actually the flipside of the AFP/PNP elements when not on the clock.

    How do you face a problem when the problem is your face – and no longer the mirror 😆

  16. ulong pare · ·

    … daaang

    … question: is the security agency a legit biz?

    … answer: depends who you ask… illegal, if the agency belongs to the “other” camp…

    … new entrepreneural biz (better than solar biz): 50cc honda for hire… highest bidder gets the contract… malas lang ang kinontrata… :mrgreen:

  17. Hyden Toro · ·

    The Roman Catholic Church was placed there by the Spaniards. To control people: you have to mesmertize and frighten your subjects with Religion and Gods. These have always been the tricks of Rulers. This is the reason; ancient Rulers worked at the same time as High Priests. They terrified people:”if you don’t follow me; the Gods will punish you”. “You will be toasted like barbeque in Hell”…so, the gullible Filipinos (Indios); like you and me are afraid not to follow these impostors.

    Is it not what the Aquino family had done? They removed Marcos with the help of Cardinal Sin and the Catholic Church. The Iglesia ni Kristo Manalos, are scaring off their followers; to vote for political candidates; they had decided. Or, they will be “tiwalag”: “fry like fried chickens in Hell.” This is the reason, I am against Organized Religions. I believe in God. But, I don’t believe in Organized Religions…

  18. ulong pare · ·

    … daaang

    @Hyden t… the other side…

    … HUKs, the forerunner of current NPA… little history: circa magsaysay regime: flips were/are afraid of aswangs/manananggal/vampires… they drank blood and ate liver… oooooh scary…

    … unc sammy sent kanutos/basureros in central flipland… captured and killed some HUKs… drained their blood… then, hang their ghastly/ghostly cadaver in public places… and touted as “KINATAY NG ASWANGS/ETC”…

    … HUKs surrendered… allah eh, mahirap ng kagatin ng bampira… :mrgreen:

    … si ramon m. allah eh, the conqueror of HUKS… da hero of common tae oooopsie tao… bwi hi hi hi hi… :mrgreen:

  19. the security agency has the legit papers and non-legit assets :mrgreen:

    merong blue boys – cannon fodder for bank robbers.

    merong body guards – cannon fodder for very important pigs

    merong plantation guards – active/dismissed whose paychecks were commandeered by their commanders

    and there’s the “training mission ” – train and win a million!!

    rob the banks were the agency has blue boys 😆

  20. silvercrest · ·

    One thing to consider is why set up NPA when you already got HUKs?
    NPA pro-Damasos. HUKs anti-Damasos.

    AFP and PNP are guns for hire because of low salary and small benefits. The generals and commanders are the only ones enjoying “privileges”. La Salle, Ateneo & other private school kids, with their flashy cars are not thinking where their commander-daddies are getting their money…surely not from their salaries. Hipokritos!

    In PMA they have an honor code system, “A cadet must not cheat, lie, steal nor tolerate among us those who do.” and honor guide questions, “Do I intend to deceive? Do I intend to take undue advantage? If both questions are answerable by YES, such action is not honorable”. Sadly, their honor system has en expiry date…what? 5 years after graduation? May be less. Some plebes are not even getting their monthly allowances.

  21. silvercrest · ·

    How can they not tolerate when they are the same people? hehehe
    It’s like scolding one’s self in front of the mirror…ay buangit!..hihihi

  22. @silvercrest – mismo.. how can they clamp on the private armed groups – when they go off-duty – they become these private armed groups. naglolokohan lang tayo nito eh.

  23. Private Armed Groups are more harsh and severe than AFP/PNP. Those men are willing to kill with brutal frankness. They do not have “Credos” nor Code of Practice. They just protect one man and one family.

    When an honest to goodness AFP/PNP will encounter those killing machines, chances are, the former are dead at once. While AFP/PNP adhere to their rules, PAGs just fire their guns.

  24. @mel – private armed groups – are when the AFP elements are “not on official duty”.

  25. ulong pare · ·

    … daaang

    … needs assistance? http://WWW.SEALSWCC.COM...

    … call… better yet, join…

  26. @BongV

    PAGs also have those uneducated, brainwashed and evil-trained elements who harass people and are willing to do the dirty jobs. I have personally experienced the fear and terror those bodyguards spread around.

  27. Ma Xianding · ·

    Nobody believes in the vows of the AFP and PNP anymore.

  28. Indolent Indio Circa 1521 · ·

    I will have trust in our PNP once they have the courage to arrest those who turn on the “wang-wang”. Those who use “wang-wang” are doing this with impunity because of their wealth, connection and power.

    The PNP who arrest the “wang-wang” are sent to lonely outposts in Aparri.

  29. PNP

    I am disappoint today……..

  30. beyond disappointment.

    MANILA, Philippines (CNN) — A Philippine commando raid meant to free two Americans and a Philippine citizen held hostage by the Islamic rebel group Abu Sayyaf ended with two of the hostages dead Friday.

    The hostages were held for more than a year by Abu Sayyaf, an Islamic separatist group in the southern Philippines that U.S. officials say is linked to al Qaeda. President Bush said Friday that Abu Sayyaf would be held accountable for the hostages’ deaths.

    The rescue attempt early Friday led to a two-hour firefight and the deaths of hostages Martin Burnham, an American missionary from Wichita, Kansas, and Deborah Yap, a Filipina nurse. The third hostage — Burnham’s wife, Gracia Burnham — was wounded in her right leg and is out of danger, Philippine Marine Brig. Gen. Emmanuel Teodosio said.

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