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No ceasefire agreement violated by AFP during Al-Barka encounter, says Ortiz

Fort Magsaysay, Philippines—The military assured it did not disobey any ceasefire agreement in the encounter in Al Barka, Basilan, which led to the death of 19 of its Special Forces last month.

“We are more than confident we did not violate any (ceasefire) agreement. The site of encounter is outside what they (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) were claiming as ATS (area of temporary stay),” Army Chief Lieutenant General Arturo Ortiz told reporters.

The military cannot enter or conduct operations in areas of temporary stay.

When asked if the MILF was the one at fault for the incident, Ortiz only said, “Obvious naman (It’s obvious).”

An investigation on the Basilan incident has started Monday led by the International Monitoring Team, which will be joined by members of the MILF and government’s Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities and the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group.

Major General Ireneo Espino, the Inspector General, said he has submitted the results of the investigation of the Al Barka incident to Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Eduardo Oban.

He said they did the report “fairly”.

He did not elaborate on the details of the report but he assured that it will be made public once read by President Benigno Aquino III.

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