AFP aerial strafing footage sparks online outrage

A video showing the Philippine Air Force (PAF) indiscriminately firing at a forested area supposedly in Dolores, Eastern Samar a week ago sparked outrage over social media. The video, originally posted in a military and police-oriented website, was shared by Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Chief Information Officer Marco Valbuena on his Twitter account and viewed by more than 86,000 times.

The 56-second clip was taken aboard a military helicopter showed a PAF gunner a wearing a helmet with a “Duterte” patch firing a 50-caliber machinegun while they flew over an area of forests with patches of coconut trees.

Valbuena said that the video showed aerial strafing is senseless and indiscriminate, endangers civilians, spoils forest resources and is a total waste of public funds. His post drew hundreds of comments and shares from netizens who cannot hide their outrage against Duterte’s military men.

One comment read: “Senseless. I think of communities who forage, hunt, and rely on forests for subsistence. Ecosystems disturbed. The AFP, for the longest time, has blindly set their targets — with civilians, envi bearing all the brunt.”

The helicopter was deployed by the PAF to supposedly “aide” the military’s ground troops who located a temporary base of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Barangay Osmeña in Dolores town last August 16. The National Democratic Front-Eastern Visayas reported that the division-led operation mobilized at least three helicopters, a fighter jet and a drone, as well as ground troops from the 52nd IB and 78th IB against a platoon of Red fighters.

Taking a hint at the regime’s draconian Anti-Terror Law, a netizen’s comment on the post asked: “now tell me, who are the real terrorists?” Another one commented asking if PAF’s strafing is still in accordance with the rules of war. Most comments lamented that anyone could be hit by the bullet as they do not see any clear target from the airship.

Days ago, a Manila Bulletin report published a picture showing a projectile that went through the roof of a civilian house, which fortunately did not explode. The AFP made the lame excuse that the projectile was not theirs.

With the pandemic at hand, netizens could not help but wonder: “Is this why their [AFP] budget is so huge compared to health? For wasting?” The Department of Defense (DND) has a proposed budget of a whopping P221.61 billion under the 2022 National Expenditure Program submitted by the Department of Budget and Management. This is a 7.68% increase from last year’s budget allocation to the department with P205.82 billion.

Valbuena said that that aerial bombs, helicopter gunships and artillery shelling are superfluous weapons and disproportionate use of force in counterinsurgency operations. He said that these cause indiscriminate damage to property and the environment and untold terror and trauma among the people.

AFP aerial strafing footage sparks online outrage