AFP says officers in Al-Barka court martial will not be detained

May 21, 2012 10:36 pm 

MANILA, May 21 – A General Court Martial begins Tuesday the trial of four military officers charged in connection with the so-called Al-Barka, Basilan fiasco.

There, 19 Special Forces troops were killed in an encounter with Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels on Oct. 18, 2011.

The Armed Forces said Monday four officers will not be confined or restricted to quarters while the trial against them is on.

The accused are Lt. Col. Leonardo I. Peña, former commanding officer of the 4th Special Forces Battalion; Col. Alexander Macario, former commander of the Special Operations Task Force–Basilan Province; Col. Amikandra S. Undug, former Regiment Commander of Special Forces Regiment (Airborne), Special Operations Command (SOCOM); and Lt. Col. Orlando D. Edralin, former commandant of Special Forces School, SOCOM.

They were accused of violating Article 84 (Willful or Negligent Loss, Damage or Wrongful Disposition); Article 96 (Conduct Unbecoming an Officer and Gentleman); and Article 97 (Disorders and Neglects to the Prejudice of Good Order and Military Discipline) of the Articles of War.

According to Col. Arnulfo Burgos Jr., AFP spokesperson, the accused will not be confined as the case against them is purely administrative in nature and the officers are not considered a flight risk.

"They are presumed innocent until proven guilty," he stressed.

Brig. Gen. Teodoro Cirilo Torralba III has been appointed as the court martial president.

Torralba, at present the senior military adviser of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, is a member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) “Mapitagan” Class of 1980.

Other members of the court martial are Col. Dante Talino, Col. Domingo Tutaan Jr., Col. Wilfred Bonilla, Col. Joel Celino, Col. Rafael Sera, all from the Philippine Army; and Col. Andre Tanyag from the Philippine Air Force.

Alternate members are Col. Rafael Valencia and Col. Arwel Oropesa, both from the PA.

The Law members are Col. Feliciano Loy and Lt. Col. Gerry Puluhanan, both from the Judge Advocate General Service.

The trial judge advocates are Lt. Col. Ser-Me Ayuyao, Lt. Col. Liberato Ramos, and Maj. Vener Malabanan III, all from JAGS.

The military defense counsel is composed of Maj. Rosel Tan, Maj. Julius Agdeppa and Maj. Gabrielle Octava. (PNA)

hbc/scs/PFN

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