The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is squandering millions of pesos in public funds using helicopters to conduct counterinsurgency psyops last April in the hinterland villages of Caraga region.
Maj. Francisco Garello, public information officer of 402nd Infantry Brigade was quoted bragging in a regional news report that they used a Philippine Air Force Huey (UH1J) helicopter and two MG-520 gunships to drop 10,000 leaflets and 200 face masks on the remote villages of the towns of Kitcharao, Jabonga and Tubay in Agusan del Norte, and the towns of Alegria and Gigaquit in Surigao del Norte. Garello also revealed that another sortie is being planned this week concentrating on villages that could not be reached by military vehicles.
The cost per flight hour of Huey helicopters is P110,000. Flying MG-520 gunships is even costlier. According to CPP Chief Information Officer Marco Valbuena, the AFP is wasting too much money in their “helicopter joyrides.”
“At the most conservative, the AFP spent at least half a million pesos to drop 200 facemasks, meaning they spent P2,500 for every face mask delivery.”
Valbuena, however, suspected that the AFP’s helicopter sorties are actually part of intensified combat operations in Agusan del Norte which resulted in clashes in Kitcharao last April 20. “The AFP is merely using their so-called Covid-19 response as smokescreen to hide the brutal aerial strafing and bombardment,” he added.
Valbuena said relentless counterinsurgency operations by the AFP show the utter insensitivity of the Duterte government to the plight of the Filipino people amid the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as the economic and humanitarian crisis brought about by the government’s ill-planned and militarist lockdown.
Last month, it was reported that the military used two Huey helicopters to drop leaflets in the towns of Mountain Province and Masbate urging “NPA fighters” to surrender and maliciously accused the revolutionary movement of exploiting the public health crisis.#