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4 senior AFP officers to face court martial over deadly Basilan clash

Four senior military officials will face court martial proceedings for the Oct. 18 operation against Moro rebels in Al Barka town, Basilan, that left 19 soldiers dead and 14 others injured.

Retired Armed Forces chief Gen. Eduardo Oban issued the order days before he bowed out of military service, according to military spokesman Col. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos.

The order was based on the recommendation of the Court of Inquiry (COI) that looked into the botched operation of the Army’s Special Forces.

“The chief of staff has acted on it, has approved the recommendation of the Court of Inquiry last weekend. The recommendation is for four senior officers to be subjected to court martial proceedings,” Burgos said at a press briefing on Tuesday.

Burgos withheld the name of the four officers “pending formal official notification” of the development. He said the military leadership will make sure that the four officers “will be made available for the proceedings.”

Two officers — Col. Alexander Macario, former commander of Special Operations Task Force Basilan; and Lt. Col. Leo Peña, commanding officer of the 4th Special Forces Battalion — were immediately relieved following the bungled operation.

As of posting time, GMA News Online has yet to confirm if they were among the four who would stand to face trial.

The encounter undermined the ongoing peace talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and had even prompted several sectors to call for its termination. The Aquino administration, however, proceeded with the negotiations.

Oban formed the COI last month to look into the culpability or liability of military personnel in the operation based on the recommendation of the Board of Inquiry, which initially looked into the incident.

Oban, who retired from the military on Tuesday, has already been replaced by Lt. Gen. Jessie Dellosa as chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. — KBK, GMA News
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December 13, 2011 4:43pm

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