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Bacolod City, Philippines Monday, January 17, 2011
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Soldiers hope for
end to ‘costly war’


CAMP MACARIO PERALTA, Capiz -  Soldiers assigned at artillery units said they  are hoping and praying that the internal conflict,  that has  taken its toll on the Philippine economy for more than 40 years, will come to an end soon.

“War is very costly,”  1Lt. Merwin Bodollo, an officer of the 6th Field Artillery Battalion, said.

If there is no war, Bodollo said the funds used for the purchase for ammunition of 105mm howitzers could be used for the development of the countrysides, especially the insurgency-affected areas.

Ammunition for a 105mm howitzer costs P32,000 each,  which is  equivalent to the  salary of three sugarcane farm workers being paid at P100 per day.

Citing his experience as an artillery officer in 2008 during the manhunt for Moro Islamic Liberation Front rogue personnel, Bodollo said they were able to fire 30 rounds of 105mm howitzer in just one day to  support  the ground operations of the Philippine Army.

 For that alone, he added, the government spent P900,000.

An artillery battalion is equipped with twelve 105mm howitzers, with 2,500 rounds of ammunition.

Prices of ammunition for 81mm and 60mm mortar, which are also  issued to infantry units, range  P6,000 to P9,000 each, military records show.

Bodollo said they are calling the New People’s Army to end the senseless war, and  instead, help the government in the development of the countrysides.

“Let’s stop the armed conflict. We should resolve our concerns through a process that should not be  in a violent manner,”  Bodollo said.

The  6th FAB artillery unit had been put into action in the campaign against NPA in Calinog, Iloilo in 2009 and in southeastern Negros in 2009, military records showed.

In using the howitzers, Bodollo said the primary consideration is always that no civilian  is  hit by artillery fires. “ We always ensure that it will hit the enemy, and not civilians”, he stressed.

He added that the firing of  105mm howitzers should have  clearance from a brigade commander and up, considering  the  powerful destruction it can cause.

The 105mm cannon has a maximum range of 11,000 meters with a 500 meters-wide destruction to its target, using a high explosive ordnance.

In his five year assignment as an artillery officer, Bodollo said they never hit a civilian nor facilities in a crossfire.

All of those assigned in the artillery unit are one in saying that, “In war, there is no winner or loser”.*GPB




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