Following a series of burglaries in the quarters of officers and enlisted personnel, nightly checkpoints are now the rule inside Camp Aguinaldo, the general headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
According to official reports, at least 15 military quarters have been robbed since January this year.
The thieves took cash, laptop computers, cameras and phones, among other things.
In the latest case, which occurred before dawn last June 16, the burglars stole a Mazda 323 sedan parked in front of the residence of a colonel on Capinpin Avenue inside the camp.
The thieves were able to get past the checkpoints inside the camp and past the sentry guards at the gates.
AFP spokesperson Colonel Arnulfo Burgos Jr. said the nightly checkpoints, which start from 10 p.m. and ends at 5:30 a.m., started three months ago in reaction to the string of burglaries.
He said the suspects were caught in four of the cases, and that the burglars turned out to be outsiders. He said some were minors.
Even with the security provided by the camp, soldiers living in military quarters have been told to secure their own homes.
Where Camp Aguinaldo was once believed to be safe from burglars, residents have now started to put up fences and window grills.
“Our camp commander says it is the responsibility of residents to enforce security measures in their homes while they maintain security within the perimeter of the camp. We should not be complacent,” Burgos said.
He said based on the police investigation, two or three suspects entered the quarters of Colonel Nelson Chedrome of the AFP Dental Service through the kitchen window which only had a window screen.
The suspects got two expensive cell phones and the keys of the colonel’s Mazda 323 and Nissan X-Trail. But the latter vehicle was not taken away. The Mazda was recovered in Angat, Bulacan on Wednesday.
The colonel and his wife discovered the theft on returning home before dawn last Saturday.
Police investigators believe the suspects avoided the checkpoints by leaving the camp after 5:30 a.m.
Meanwhile, the AFP has been unable to restore power to the AFP Grandstand and adjoining offices because of bureaucratic red tape, 45 days after lightning disabled three transformers.
The AFP Public Affairs Office (PAO), the Women’s Auxiliary Corps office, the Defense Press Corps working room, the Del Pilar Lounge (a holding area when ceremonies are held in the grandstand), the personnel barracks and the audio-visual room have been without power since May 4.