Does the MILF now outgun our armed forces?

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One of the worrying elements of the Mamasapano massacre is that the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) may have started to outgun – except for heavy artillery – our armed forces, both the army and police.

Thank this gullible administration for that: Since it assumed office in 2010 it has left the MILF on its own, allowing it to have practically its own territory, mainly in central Mindanao. Even the Armed Forces enter these areas only, as they have insisted in the hearings on the Mamasapano massacre, after “appropriate coordination” with the insurgents has been made.

According to the March 2015 report on the incident by the Philippine National Police’s Board of Inquiry, while 16 Special Action Forces troopers were killed – executed – by arms fired at point-blank range, “28 others sustained fatal injuries consistent with a firefight involving high-powered firearms.”

The PNP report didn’t go into detail, but a source claimed that most had fatal wounds made by high-velocity, long-range cal. 50 bullets. That indicates they may have been fired by the dreaded sniper rifle called Barrett M107. These have an effective range of – believe it or not, 1.8 kilometers – three times the effective range of Armalite AR-15s, our military’s standard rifle.


While the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the PNP do have sniper rifles, their quantity is not known. That our military does not display them during parades seems to indicate there aren’t too many. The rifles are expensive, costing at least P750,000, and each .50 cal bullet, P500.

In contrast, the Barret seems to have become the weapon of choice – or weapon to boast about – of the MILF as these have become ubiquitous in photos taken of insurgent guerrillas, both by their own photographers or by news organizations. These have replaced the rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) launchers MILF guerillas were usually photographed carrying just five years ago.

One reason for this, which has worrying implications for our military, is that the MILF has been manufacturing Barrett rifles in its own makeshift factory.

Weapon of choice: Above, MILF sniper, probably how the insurgents picked off the SAF commandos one by one, a kilometer away. Below, dozens of Barrett rifles lined up in an MILF arms factory. Note at the upperleft corner are RPG launchers, formerly the MILF’s weapons of choice.

Weapon of choice: Above, MILF sniper, probably how the insurgents picked off the SAF commandos one by one, a kilometer away. Below, dozens of Barrett rifles lined up in an MILF arms factory. Note at the upperleft corner are RPG launchers, formerly the MILF’s weapons of choice.

Barrett factory
One of the PNP’s former top intelligence officers, now retired Col. Rodolfo Mendoza, even showed media a video of such a factory. In one part of the video, dozens of such rifles were lined up apparently for finishing touches. In the Senate hearings investigating the Mamasapano massacre, Senator Alan Peter Cayetano showed photos of such a plant, which he claimed was located in “Barangay Katol, General Salipada Pendatun, Maguindanao.”

I don’t find this surprising. In 1996 when I visited Camp Abubakr, which was then the MILF’s main headquarters, the vice chairman for military affairs at the time and now chairman Murad Ibrahim, showed me the barrel for an RPG launcher, boasting that it was made by MILF craftsmen.

Murad then explained to me that “self-reliance” was a critical part of the MILF’s long-range strategy, as they knew that arms were crucial if they ware to win their independence. He said there were limits to the arms “regularly purchased from the AFP.” “Self-reliance,” he explained, was learning to manufacture their own weapons, and reloading the cartridges.

An intelligence officer claimed that this was where the support of a foreign government – Malaysia or the State of Sabah – was crucial, since no matter how skillful the Moros were in craftsmanship, they needed modern materials, such as the alloys used in the manufacture of a Barrett rifle’s barrel. “Such kind of materials can be procured only by a government, you can’t buy them in a hardware store,” he said.

“And I don’t think the MILF manufactured those sniper scopes.”

The Barrett rifles have become so ubiquitous among MILF fighters that they call it “Barit.”

The Mamasapano battle demonstrated how vital the Barretts were in a firefight. The PNP and our armed forces haven’t discussed this as it has become demoralizing for their troops.

It was mainly because of the sniper rifles that the SAF’s 55th company was pinned down and eventually massacred, despite the commandos’ famed marksmanship.

The MILF forces simply positioned themselves as far as a kilometer from the SAF’S 55th company, and used their Barretts to pick off the commandos one by one. The SAF troopers were helpless as their Armalites didn’t have the range the Barretts did. The SAF had about four sniper rifles of a different make, I was told, but these normally run out of ammo quickly. That was why the firefight lasted the entire morning.

Hoping against hope, the SAF troops kept firing their rifles even if the MILF were out of range or if their arms lost their accuracy because of the distance. The MILF, on the other hand, simply fired at the commandos as if they were on a firing range, adjusting their Barrett sights for eventual accuracy.

When the SAF’s firing began subsiding, and then eventually stopped, that obviously meant they had run out of ammo, and the MILF approached them for the kill.

Let’s face it, the MILF already tactically outguns our military. The AFP’s remaining advantage is its artillery and armored vehicles.

But do you realize that once the Bangsamoro government has been put in place, one of its exclusive powers under the Bangsamoro Basic Law’s Article 5, Section 3, would be to operate the seaports? Do you think the MILF would resist the temptation to buy armored vehicles and artillery, of course, for the “Bangsamoro Police”?

What kind of a nation has this administration created?

Iqbal on negotiations
Aquino’s gullible negotiators should learn from their MILF counterpart, Mohagher Iqbal. Because of space constraints, I couldn’t include here his ideas on negotiations, which he wrote using the name Salah Jubair in his book Bangsamoro: A Nation under Endless Tyranny:

“If war uses the force of arms to achieve both military and political objectives, negotiation pursues the same goals through the skillful use of language and diplomacy. If war, as once aptly put, is an extension of politics, and negotiation is an aspect of war, then negotiation is war in another form.

What are its objectives when a regime agrees to resolve the conflict through the round table? Is negotiation the only form of struggle to achieve a just and lasting peace? Or is it merely used as a weapon to gain time, accumulate resources and consolidate power for the next round of battles?”

tiglao.maniltatimes@gmail.com
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35 Comments

  1. This yellow and weak government
    is capitulating with terrorists for its
    own interests. A government of traitors and self-serving public
    servants. What a SHAME!

  2. whatever guns the rebels have, it can kill the courage of filipinos that are ready to depend our sovereignty. but the reason that really kills the men of our AFP @ PNP are the corrupt military @ government officials and political leaders….

  3. haaaays another report from someone who doesnt even research about military arms….

    the barit (not barret, I dunno where you got that) is a house-made sniper rifle. but the term “sniper rifle” doesnt mean is a good to go rifle, its sniper scope is made from simple mechanics and not quite reliable compare to what AFP had. and AFP had different variants of sniper rifles (if you had knowledge in using a computer at least, research thru WIKI) and to compare the Barit, its quite youre comparing a revolver to a american 1911 pistol.

    seriously. this is the main reason I dont trust any “pinoy” media, youre reports are obviously BIAS. please do your job properly. so at least I could see Philippine MASCOM is a good course to take…

  4. It seems that our President is not aware on how other countries deal with secessionist group in their respective country. Isn’t treason worse than plunder?

  5. Amnata Pundit on

    Its not superiority in arms that wins a war, its the willpower to win. There are many examples in history of this, Vietnam being one of them. Is our government determined to win ? It looks like the government is determined to surrender, not only to the MILF animals but to all enemies of the state, except to those who are the enemies of the yellow regime. Marcos had the will to win the Mindanao War, so did Erap. Cory, FVR, GMA, and this BS, simply by just sitting on their ass, have succeeded in compromising our national security. When will people, especially supposedly intelligent people, realize that the problem is not BS Aquino but the yellow regime. To make sure these yellowturds do not install another one of their own in the Palace, OCCUPY COMELEC.

  6. Mr. Tiglao aside from publishing this article, pls gather groups with common interest for the real peace in Mindanao and go to the senate and congress and present your article to them so that they will be enlightened and change their minds of wasting efforts and time deliberating on BBL. Siguro halos alam na ng lahat na ginagago tayo ng Malaysia…Bakit ba ang gobierno natin ay takot sa MILF.. tugisin at pulbosin ang mga taong ito na palagi nalang naghasik ng lagim sa ating bayan.. Takot din siguro ang ating armed forces kasi ayon nga 1.8 km ang effective range ng Barrett M107 wala tayong kalabanlaban d2 mali.ban sa ating air power and artillery… Mahirap ng magsalita sa dami ng issues… Bakbakan na sasama ako being an officer of the reservist force….

  7. Did Malaysia ever tried to negotiate with its rebels? no they wiped them out. Did Indonesia negotiated with its separatist? No, they wiped them out. Didi Sri Lanka granted the call of the Tamil Tigers for a substate? no they wiped them out.

    One thing in common, all this nations believed that these separatist groups will not settle simply for autonomy but will keep on pushing for independence little by little.

    After wiping out their rebels, Malasia is insurgent free, indonesia is no longer bothered by the Aceh separatism, Sri Lanka is moving towards integration and no more acts of terorrism. ONE CLEAR lesson, while we want to settle things on the table these kind of rebels will not so war is the only way.

    One more commonality, many of the Generals who led the campaigns were students of our own National Defense College, who taught them the art of dealing with rebels.

    • It is not true Indonesia is not bothered by separatism in Aceh. The province is still as restive as it could be. Separatist sentiment is still high in that area, as is the case in Papua, Indonesia. But yes, I do agree with your point, that those countries dealt with separatism in a more militarily decisive manner.

  8. This is one good reason why Netizens, especially the OFWs, should bunch together and try to encourage and influence those members of our families whom we provide help, material or otherewise (and close friends whose respects we enjoy), to dump the ‘trapos’, members of the ‘dynasties’ and the ‘corrupt’ and unproductive members of Congress come elections 2015. Everyone should be more concerned with personal qualifications (not by popularity and by family name), and track record of candidates. Let us be more sensitive to the ‘precarious’ condition of our country, lest it will be ‘sold’ by unscrupulous politicians or be dominated by other countries. Gising na Juan dela Cruz!

    • Indeed, the next leader would not even have to be in politics but its work will be an era of nation building. The politicians will never have any place in it because all the barangay members will be so busy earning on their own because there will be so many jobs and so many projects that will be put up all at the same time. It will not have time to wait for NEDA to approve their projects because the local governments will already know what is good for its constituents. This will soon start in the middle of this year when we start monetizing the gold and use the proceeds therefrom for our people who owns these assets in the first place.

  9. maybe the milf has more powerful firearms than the afp. with all the corruption being found out in arms procurement, from handguns, ammos, rifles, helos, etc., not only the armed services being outgunned but also has low quality firearms. trillanes et al mounted a coup d’ etat against arroyo for this kind of corruption. it seems the armed services are keeping quiet and mum about these corruption which endagers their very lives in the field. remember the issue of grenades not exploding during the saf massacre in mamasapano?

  10. What does the BBL and the Paris Peace Accords of 1973 has in common? One of the parties used the mock peacetime to strengthen their arms and ranks while the other slept and hoped for peace. Eventually the latter lost the war but gained peace but not on their terms. How ironic.

    Please take time to read how Sri Lankan won genuine peace thru a complete and final victory over the Tamil Tigers.

    http://thediplomat.com/2015/04/how-sri-lanka-won-the-war/

  11. Aquino was elected to the job to implement and enforce the laws while running the executive branch effectively and in accordance with the laws. An understatement is to say the job is beyond his capabilities. He let the MILF grow and develop their forces, while they kidnapped and held for ransom various victims. He let them bomb and terrorize the population without taking action to disband them. Somehow the MILF are “friends” of his. He approved all kinds of agreements with them and had a BBL written. Now the MILF is stronger than 5 years ago and will become a bigger threat of succession in a few years more. We need to stop everything about the BBL and all agreements made with the MILF. Let’s do this right.

    Find out what is wrong with the ARMM if anything. this is a congressional task. If legislation is needed let the Congress write it. If negotiators are needed they should be AFP members, not peace-niks. No negotiations with the MILF or any terrorist gang.

  12. Am so proud we still have filipinos with right thinking deductions. If congress would only analyze things they do, we would have that feeling of security for our country. But these people are but a few. Democracy to succeed, it must not only have people who know how to read and write, but must be critical ,on the watch out of their officials, corporate managers and the media. But with Pacquiao, beating Mayweather, we have a sure president in 2022

    • beating mayweather or not, PACQUIAO WILL BE THE PHILIPPINE PRESIDENT BY 2022, this is what my crystal ball foretells.

  13. This government wants peace with the people who are lawless in the sense. Are we going to let this happen? Are you sure Mr. Panot that after BBL is passed, peace is achieved in Mindanao? Com’on sir, MILF is just one of the groups, even if BBL is passed, MILF will not help destroy or control the other lawless groups, simply bec they are brothers. Worst is, government will spend so much budget for the BBL, from the very pockets of us, taxpayers, which I believe are not all in consent to this. I suggest therefore, scrap BBL, use the billions of budget in acquiring or manufacturing Barrett M107 or higher, so as to match/surpass their capabilities and let’s have war. I volunteer to join as reservist.

  14. Norodin Lucman on

    It is not a question of AFP being outgunned by the MILF.There is a world of difference between a Bangsamoro freedom fighter and a Filipino foot soldier whose superiors are often caught stealing from them, using them for their personal ends and worse whose benefits end up in the wrong pockets of politicians and armchair generals. Despite the lessons learned from RAM, Oakwood Mutiny, Mamasapano and restiveness of men in uniform, systemic corruption continues to plague the AFP. Generals Catapang, Pangilinan and other key generals in Mindanao stood their ground in the face of pressures to undermine the gains of peace process in Mindanao. That’s the only bright spot in this sordid affair within the AFP whose real enemies are from outside, not within..

  15. The corruption in the government, including the military, has virtually rendered our APF & POLICE the weakest military organization in Southeast Asia. The country has become virtually indefensible against foreign aggression, needless to say, internal peace and security. Yet, still nobody among seem to care, as the corruption persist, as evidenced by the purchased of antique helicopters, that some even won’t fly. All they care about is money.

  16. The scary part of all of this leniency by the governance of Pnoy is the After effect… “WHAT IF”????
    *what if all of this assesment are true and the MILF becomes so powerful and it did really started a war just like Palentinian with Israel…a never ending War… can we go after Pnoy and his family? What will happen to the people of mindanao who lives here and not in Luzon and Visayas… ???
    With so many What if scenario, does this present government considers this??? Just like the leadership of Napenas who leads to the death of Saf44, he didnt consider the “What if” scenario that could make or break that missions success….

  17. apolonio reyes on

    Mr. Tiglao, the alloy steel bars needed for the manufacture of Barret Snipper rifles are always ready available in all hardware stores selling round bar alloy steels. What is not available is the machineries to machine the round bars into barrel and the heat treatment machines to heat the barrel to the hardness needed by the barrels. AND, MILF MURAD, WAS CORRECT THE CRAFTSMEN AND APPROVAL OF THE US GOVERNMENT TO COPY THEIR ARMS.

    • Iran makes its own 50BMG sniper rifle. Gobyerno-Pilipinas has to put a blockage around Mindanao against arms smuggling to MILF and their KKK’s like J-I-M and BIFF.
      —–
      Just look at NPA/CPP which always does raids on police/army barracks to obtain rifles and ammunition. The MILF? They have steady inflow (from Middle East thru Malaysia or Indonesia). Cut the flow by 30% and MILF attacks get reduced. Cut the flow by 75% and bilis-bilis ang pagbalik peace-and-order to Maguindanao.

  18. Ordiniza Cusap on

    malaysia has not forgotten our claim to sabah. it is in its national interest to secretly aid the muslim rebels to prevent all future philippine leaders to venture in another jabidah enterprise. in 1986, during the concom deliberations, the national territory provison was carefully drafted not to offend malaysia regarding our sabah claim and at the same time it was worded that our claim be still pursued because of “historic or legal title”. that is of public record. in short, we are not yet done with sabah. after 1967, knowing already the philippine intent on sabah, malaysia has turned the tables and has been secretly funding the muslim rebels in mindanao. remember, malaysia was very young at that time–it was just granted independence in 1965– it has to survive conflicts from within and without. it must be noticed by now that those sleeper agents or saboteurs who embedded themselves in mindanao are malaysians. those deep cover agents are sent to instigate the muslims to wage war against the philippine government. an internally strife-torn philippines cannot anymore think of expanding territories. what do we do? well, for peaceniks, make a treaty with malaysia: give sabah to malaysia or better yet sell the philippine legal claims on sabah to malaysia. then, include in the treaty our mutual cooperation to defend each other against foreign enemies and TERRORISTS(including malaysia’s own). and that malaysia will no longer aid or sell arms or military hardware to muslim rebels.

  19. apolonio reyes on

    Sa pinakitang lakas ng pwersa ng MILF, BIFF at armed groups sa MAMASAPANO MASSACRE na resulta nang pabaya ng GPH mula nuon 2010 nang pinabayaan ang MILF gumawa ng sariling ILLEGAL NA FACTORY ng BARRETT SNIPER RIFLES at kung mapasa ang BBL ay bibigyan pa nang P528.6B budget sa 6 na taon ang MILF o P88.1B/year na budget na mas malaki pa sa budget ng atin AFP. HINDI MALAYO NA MAGKAROON ANG MILF NG MAS MODERN ARMED FORCES AT PULISYA KASYA SA ATIN MISMO ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPIINES AT PHILIPPINE NATIONAL POLICE … NO…NO….NO… TO…. BBL……

  20. Lord Chimera on

    Wanna bet that some if not all of the money that was given to the MILF in the past was used to purchase these arms?

  21. Of course, these Malaysian trained terrorists MILF are well equipped and Aquino knew these long time ago and with this scenario, Aquino is happy he could easily sell his peace pact with the help of his hidden pork barrel and the tracts of land in central Mindanao to his friend Malaysia and do not be surprised if Aquino was not really interested in reviving our claim to Sabah. See what Aquino done during the invasion of Sabah by the 200 men of Sultan Kiram. He even sided with Malaysia in condemning such invasion and did not protest when Malaysia maltreated some Pinoys thereat. What can you deduce from the actions taken by this shameless President? Is it not traitorous?

  22. If the MILF can manufacture the “Barit” sniper rifle, there is no reason why our AFP can’t do it too. We have good gunsmiths in Danao and even Ilocos. instead of arresting them pool them, enhance their skills by visit to gun factories in Israel and let them produce our own rifles.

    • matagal ng may nag panukala nya na mga bloggers at mga kolumnista at opinion makers. ano ginawa ng gobieno?? hinuli at ikinulong. dapat ay nag develop sila ng industriya para hindi na tayo bumibili ng firearms sa ibang bansa. magbabayad na lang tayo ng royalty sa dayuhang gumagawa ng gusto nating gayahin na firearms o kaya mag develop tayo ng sarili nating desenyo. hindi baga yung cal 45 na handgun ay nilikha ng mga kano para sa mga muslim rebels na hindi kayang patumbahin ng kanilang cal 38 rebolbers. sabagay walang kitang pangmadalian sa pag gawa ng industria madaling gumawa ng pera sa importasyon at pagbili ng mga gawa ng armas.

  23. sonny dela cruz on

    My only concern is why the Philippine government allowed them to build camps for their illegal activities and for their military type training. Police and Philippine military personnel cannot go into this camps unless they make coordination as part of this so called peace agreement. Do they own the area officially while they are still talking on the BBL or it is a part of the peace agreement, that outsiders are not allowed without prior coordination with them. I don’t understand it why the government made that pact with the terrorist.

  24. Alejo Rosete on

    I want to read the important passages of the
    book written by SALAH JUBAIR.

    Thanks Ambassador Tiglao.

  25. Palagay ko imported ang mga materials ng Cal.50 Barrett ng MILF at inaasemble lang dito sa atin. Upgraded na sila at mas maigsi ang Barrel ng Barrel nila compared yung galing sa US. Dapat mag upgrade na rin ang PAF at 500Lbs na ang gamitin instead of 250 lbs at sa Army 155mm na at sa tabi tabi na lang yung 105mm. Dapat tanggalin na si MGEN Pangilinan dyan sa 6ID at dumami ang mga MILF at Armas sa time Nya. Sleeping with the enemy si Pangilinan. Baka friends ng MILF at kita naman yung reaction Nya sa SAF 44.

  26. puebloerrante on

    agreed. it’s not just the battle that is the mamasapano massacre that is in our heads, it is the bigger and more protracted war of secession that the rebels will eventually raise at the slightest chance of provocation.

    the rebels talk peace to bide for time while they strengthen their war machine.

    i hope we have generals who have the balls and the brains to save this country.

    • you, me, and 100 million other Filipinos.

      the country is being held hostage by a few thousand armed terrorists. to think that the Armed Forces of the Philippines is over 100 thousand strong, with planes, helicopters, and armored vehicles.

      What’s confusing is, why doesn’t the Senators and Congressmen see that? Why even waste time of a BBL at all when political will can end this stupidity once and for all?