The brazen killing of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo by ex-military gunmen last March 4, 2023 revealed a longstanding predicament hounding the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on what to do with former soldiers, particularly those with specialized skills frequently exposed to the brutality of combat, and who have retired from military service or discharged for various reasons
and who are now back into the fold of civil society. These seasoned and battle tested veterans, some
with several violent encounters with the enemies of the State in the past, are now trying to reinsert themselves into the mundane fabric of society in the hope of becoming ordinary but solid residents in a community.

But how do they cope with the rigors of normal and ordinary civilian life? What about those who may be prone to suffering the so called war trauma or “war shock” as it is sometimes called but is
now medically identified as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) due to combat stress. Are these war veterans able to easily insert themselves in society and generally live a normal and ordinary life
without third party intervention such as the government? These are valid questions that must be answered not only by the AFP but the national government itself if it seeks to put a stop or at least reduce the number of criminal incidents, particularly assassinations and ambuscades involving
firearms, perpetrated by former soldiers who have been deceived into applying their specialized combat skills into a much darker use and during peacetime.

This is a quandary that the government will now seek to address in light of recent events that saw former soldiers being hired as assassins in the underground world of gun for hire syndicates. No less than Army Chief Lt. General Romeo Brawner Jr. announced that the Philippine Army which he
commands will be “conducting programs to ensure that their “skilled” personnel would not be of use to criminal elements even after they bow out of the military service”. He also revealed that during their discussions with Malacanang officials it was agreed that they would have to monitor the “post military service activities” of all army personnel with “special skills”.

General Brawner disclosed further that at present the Army only monitors their bomb disposal
experts so they could not be compelled to become bomb makers for terrorists but because of what happened in Negros Oriental he has already ordered his units to compile a list of their snipers, assaulters, special forces, and their Light Reaction Regiment which is the country’s premier counterterrorist unit under the AFP’s Special Operations Command. According to Brawner the list is necessary in order to acquire intel or information on their soldiers who have special combat skills
and specially when they later on retire or get discharged from service.

On the matter of monitoring its retired soldiers the act of compiling a list of those with special skills and those who have been in frequent combat in the past is a step in the right direction and a preliminary stage to acquire vital information on these types of military personnel. But it does not and will not end there. The next step would be to come up with a profile of these types of soldiers that would show their level and duration of experience during violent armed confrontations and the results of their post combat briefings in order to compile dossiers on them for active monitoring at a later stage. The national government should also enter into the picture by providing programs that would deter these ex-military individuals from engaging in nefarious activities where their
specialized skills are put to use.

If former communist rebels are being provided with livelihood programs by the government under its rebel returnee program and continue being given assistance to monitor their return to the fold
of law then there is no reason why the same, or even an enhanced program, cannot also be given to retired and discharged non-commissioned officers and soldiers, from sergeants down to the privates. If armed combatants who were former enemies of the State are being generously accommodated in their return to society then the same kind of treatment should also be given to our former soldiers who have willingly put their lives on the line and on the gravest of peril so that we can sleep soundly at night.

The ex-military men who were tagged as the gunmen in the Degamo slaying might have been part of a gun for hire syndicate that recruit former soldiers who have very little retirement pay to live a
comfortable life, no alternative livelihood to fall back on and keep them busy, or simply enticed with a large amount of money in exchange for using their special combat skills. There are a myriad of reasons for why these former soldiers became assassins for hire but the government can reduce that possibility simply by monitoring their post military activities and being vigilant about what they do with their lives after their retirement.

The die has been cast so to speak and the ball is now in the court of the AFP and the government with all of their resources to come up with a solution that will discourage these former soldiers with
special combat skills into becoming tools for murder and mayhem. MANILA, Philippines – In another brazen killing of a local government official, Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo, 56, was shot dead just outside their family’s residential compound on Saturday, March 4.
According to the Philippine National Police (PNP) Negros Oriental, the killing happened in Barangay 9, in Pamplona town. He was pronounced dead at around 11:41 am, as confirmed by his
wife Pamplona Mayor Janice Degamo in a video message.

Regular Units
The Philippine Army has several regular units (Infantry, Armor & Cavalry, Artillery, Special Forces, Intelligence, Signalling and Engineering units) and five regular support units (Medical, Ordinance,
Quartermaster, Finance and Adjutant General units) dedicated to both counterinsurgency and conventional army operations.

Armor and Cavalry
Special Forces
Military Intelligence
Corps of Engineers
Signal Corps
Medical Services
Ordinance Service
Quartermaster Service
Finance Service
Adjutant General Service

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