One of the “side stories” of the Marine Massacre on Basilan Island is that when they were surrounded and attacked, films taken by a GMA news team showed that many of the mortars didn’t explode:

This was apparent in the video footage taken by the GMA 7 television network of the fire fight that occurred after forces of the Abu Sayyaf and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front attacked a convoy of soldiers belonging to the Basilan-based First Marine Brigade.

GMA 7 reporter Jun Veneracion — who along with two crew mates was caught in the middle of the fire fight — said the Marines had one mortar launcher with 81 mm ammunition.

Veneracion said that while the Marines were able to return mortar fire, many of the rounds appeared to be duds.

The mortars were bought from the US military,  but improper storage or improper handling could cause them to misfire.

Newly elected Senator Trillianes, who  was a member of the military before being implicated in last year’s coup,, noted that defective equipment and uniforms was one of the complaints that his office plans to investigate.

Translation of all this is that some people suspect there was a kickback involved  to buy defective military equipment that endangered the lives of the Marines.

However, with the heat and humidity of the Philippines, there are probably more benign explanations, such as improper storage.

Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her webpage is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket. 

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