Fighters of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) were probably laughing their heads off at the news that a bemedalled Army officer, Lieutenant Colonel Leonardo Peña, was demoted in rank following an ambush of elite troops that left many of his soldiers dead.
Peña was demoted by a general court martial for the death of 19 Special Forces troops who were ambushed in Al Barka town in Basilan province.
Peña’s reaction to the punishment meted out on him was admirable: “I fell here, I’ll rise here.”
The mark of a true leader is taking sole responsibility for a wrong decision.
He is the pride of his Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class of 1991.
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The military captured two camps of Moro rebels in Maguindanao and North Cotabato provinces, but stopped in its tracks just as it was gaining momentum against the Bangsa Moro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).
Five soldiers of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division died in the firefight.
The number of casualties on the rebels’ side varies: Some say 30 BIFF rebels were killed, others say between 36 and 80 died in the incident.
The government says the BIFF is a splinter group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which has agreed to resume talks with the government.
In my opinion, the BIFF and the MILF are one and the same.
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Taking in graduates of the PMA again into the police service side by side with graduates of the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) might worsen the friction between the two groups, but it would be healthy for the organization.
The last batch of PMAyers to enter the Philippine National Police (PNP) was the Class of 1992.
The law creating the PNP, which was passed in 1991, barred PMA graduates after Class 1992 from entering the police service.
There was a proposal to take in PMA graduates again because their leadership training is much better than that of PNPA graduates.
The competition between PMA and PNPA graduates would redound to the benefit of the people as the two groups would try to outdo each other in serving the country.
The proposal, however, has been shot down by Malacañang.
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The Palace should reconsider its decision turning down the proposal.
Malacañang should remember that the forerunner of the PMA was the Philippine Constabulary Academy.
That’s why the first Filipino general under American rule was Rafael Crame, a graduate of the Philippine Constabulary Academy.
The Philippine Constabulary, the country’s former national police and predecessor of the PNP, preceded the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) by three decades.
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When the Air Force Flying School was still open, its graduates engaged in a healthy competition with officers of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) who were PMA graduates.
Graduates of the Air Force Flying School outdid the PMAyers sometimes, and the PMAyers outperformed their Air Force Flying School colleagues at other times.
The highest position in the PAF sometimes went to a PMAyer, but it was held at other times by an Air Force Flying School graduate.
The result was that we had the best air force in Asia, next to Japan, in the 1960s.