AFP creates Basilan clash probe team

November 10, 2011 10:48 pm 

MANILA, Nov. 10 – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said Thursday it is creating a panel that will check the alleged lapses of military officers in the Oct. 18 operation in Al-Barka, Basilan that left 19 soldiers dead.

AFP chief Gen. Eduardo Oban told reporters that the panel’s creation was based on the recommendation of the Board of Inquiry, which initially looked into the incident.

Oban said the Court of Inquiry will continue the investigation conducted by the Board of Inquiry on the incident.

He said the investigation might lead to the conduct of court martial proceedings against certain officers “if probable causes are established."

The new panel will look into the liability of officers from the tactical level down to lowest unit leader involved in the operation, Oban said. It is also tasked to determine the “heroic deeds done by the soldiers involved."

Oban did not say how many officers would be subjected to further investigation. The military has already relieved Special Operations Task Force Basilan commander Col. Alexander Macario and 4th Special Forces Battalion commander Lt. Col. Leo Peña for operational lapses following the Oct. 18 incident.

Military analysts say the incident was the military’s worst defeat in recent history against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and has undermined the peace negotiations between the government and the rebel group.

Oban said he could not say when the inquiry would be completed but added that he was hoping that it would be finished before he reaches the retirement age of 56 on Dec. 13. (PNA) RMA/JCA


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