Lt. Gen. Andres Centino, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), has warned soldiers not to pilfer and steal government weapons and ammunition to enemies of the State.
Centino issued the reminder during the ceremonial handover of newly acquired Taurus T4 5.56 mm assault rifles to personnel of the Philippine Army’s 99th Infantry Battalion (99IB) at Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija on Friday, Dec. 3.
Addressing the 99IB troops who were among the first users of the new assault rifles, Centino told them to be disciplined in using the new weapons as he stressed that belligerent soldiers have no place in the professional organization.
“Gone are the belligerents. We have transformed as an Army and are now more disciplined, skilled, competent, and professional,” Centino said.
Instead, he said the troops should use the weapons and ammunition to eliminate all armed threats in the country by June 2022 as directed by President Duterte.
“We have a tall order ahead of us but I believe we can comply in ending local armed conflicts. Take good care of our resources. Let us use them judiciously with our remaining time,” Centino said.
The assault rifles are part of the 12,412 units of Taurus T4 rifles that were acquired by the Philippine Army from Taurus Armas.
The Army reportedly issued the contract to the Brazilian arms manufacturer in January of this year to have their old M16 rifles replaced.
The AFP did not disclose the cost of the assault rifle acquisition project although Centino said it was funded through the Philippine Army’s 2019 appropriations.
Around 6,000 units of the Taurus T4 assault rifles will be distributed to the 11th Infantry Division (11ID) based in Jolo, Sulu – the stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).
Meanwhile, the rest of the rifles will be given to other Army units.