House seeks probe vs 4 military officers facing court martial

MINORITY Leader Danilo Suarez (3rd District, Quezon) is asking the House of Representatives to investigate the case of four military officers who are facing court martial in connection with the deaths of 19 soldiers killed by members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) during a clash on October 18 last year.

In House Resolution 2850, Suarez said former Special Forces regiment commander Col. Aminkadra Undug, former Basilan military commander Col. Alexander Macario, former 4th Army Special Forces battalion commander Lt. Col. Leonard Pena and Lt. Col. Orlando Edralin, former special Forces training school commander, are now being tried  for possible criminal liability on the recommendation of a military court of inquiry.

It is imperative for the appropriate committee to look into the case of the four military officers who had direct command over the dead 19 soldiers, especially since the peace framework agreement was already signed by the government and the MILF leaders. Justice must be served to the fallen soldiers, Suarez said.

Suarez declared that the rebels led by Dan Laksaw Asnawi, an escaped prisoner, have yet to be held accountable for the killings of the 19 soldiers, including three junior officers from the Special Forces Company.

AFP spokesman Col. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos Jr. had said the trial of four military commanders will continue even with the signing of framework agreement.

Both the government and MILF peace panels have yet to tackle the all-out justice order issued by President Aquino in response to the kills of 19 soldiers in Al-Barka, Basilan.

On October 18 last year, the troops from the Army’s 13th and 19th Special Forces Company went to Sitio Bakisong, Cambug Village in Al-Barka, Basilan to check on the reported presence of armed men who were holding kidnap victims when firefight erupted.

The nine-hour firefight that started at 7 in the morning claimed the lives of 19 soldiers and resulted in the wounding of several other soldiers.

Asnawi, a commander of the 114th Based Command of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces-MILF (BIAF-MILF) based in Basilan province, was detained for his alleged involvement in the killing of 23 Marines, with 14 of them beheaded, during the July 10, 2007 clash also in Al-Barka. He escaped the Basilan provincial jail on December 30, 2009 along with 29 other inmates.

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