By Andrew Jonathan S. Bagaoisan
PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, PALAWAN—Ridiculous. Disturbing. Humiliating.
These were among the intense reactions to an image of U.S. and Philippine navy officers handling visually distinct rifles at a training exercise aboard combat ship USS Fort Worth docked outside Puerto Princesa City.
The beige-clad U.S. servicemen brandished jet-black high-powered weapons, while their Filipino counterparts in blue coveralls held brick-colored plastic rifles lent by their trainors.
The contrast in the shot was telling: clearly, one was the real deal and the other a synthetic replica for training purposes. The meaning, unsettling for some who saw it: Why didn’t all the sailors just use similar weapons?