MANILA, Philippines — Shocked by the string of deadly rampages by its militiamen, military officials are contemplating placing all 50,000 Cafgu (Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Unit) members under the Army’s Special Forces Regiment to improve training and discipline.
At present, most Cafgu militiamen are supervised separately by the Army’s 10 infantry divisions.
A Cafgu detachment is headed by a senior enlisted personnel.
But in separate incidents in the last two weeks, three Cafgu members went amok and killed nine fellow militiamen and civilians and seriously injured five others, including four children.
One suspect was killed while another is under police custody. The third suspect remains at large.
Lieutenant General Arturo Ortiz, the Army chief, has ordered an investigation into the cause of the shooting rampages to prevent a repeat of “those rare and unfortunate incidents.”
A military spokesman said Ortiz has also been looking at overhauling the Cafgu personnel management system from recruitment and training to deployment and supervision.
“The plan is that the Special Forces will administer, supervise and deploy the Cafgu. The totality of handling the Cafgu will be under the Special Forces. That’s one of their tasks, to train and handle the militia,” Brigadier General Jose Mabanta Jr. said.
He said some Cafgu detachments in areas with active insurgent groups like the Davao and Bohol provinces have been placed under the control of the Special Forces Regiment, which has been under the Special Operations Command.
The military recruits militiamen to prevent New People’s Army rebels from reorganizing in an area after the bulk of government forces have moved on to other “critical areas.”
Mabanta said the plan would involve a gradual absorption of Cafgu members “eventually leading to all Cafgu being handled by the Special Forces.”
Officials hope that by placing them under Socom, militiamen will improve on their training and discipline.
But a lot still depends on the quality of leadership of detachment commanders.
“I think the training will be several notches higher. It really depends on the cadres on the ground,” Mabanta said.
Cafgu members do not get a regular salary but only receive a daily P90 subsistence pay.
Colonel Antonio Parlade Jr., the Army spokesman, early theorized that the militiamen who opened fire on their colleagues and civilians were suffering from “combat fatigue.”
He said the Army’s stress management program to counter the effects of long exposure to combat operations has not been applied to Cafgu members.
On October 24, Oligario Bucal Jr., 35, opened fire inside their detachment in Barangay Palid in Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay, and killed six of his comrades before he was killed by soldiers.
On October 21, Jonard Aredidon went amok in Davao City and killed his 18-year old girlfriend and his assistant detachment commander. He remains at large.
On October 14, Teodollo Rizare went amok during a wake in Barangay Layugan in Pagsanjan, Laguna,and killed a married couple and seriously injured four children, including the couple’s daughter, and an adult.
Rizare, a former rebel turned militiaman, has been arrested.