2 Army officers cleared in 2011 Basilan massacre
Jaime Laude (The Philippine Star) - November 9, 2012 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Two of four senior Army officers facing military trial in connection with the Oct. 18, 2011 carnage in Basilan that left 19 soldiers, including four officers, dead have been cleared of the charges filed against them.

Cleared by the military tribunal chaired by Brig. Gen. Teodoro Cirilo Torralba II were Col. Alexander Macario and Lt. Col. Orlando Edralin, relieved commanders of the Basilan Island military unit and Special Forces training school, respectively.

Macario and Edralin, along with former Special Forces regimental commander Col. Aminkadra Undug, and former 4th Special Forces Battalion commander Lt. Col. Leonardo Peña, were placed under military trial for the Army’s debacle in Barangay Cambog, Al-Barka, Basilan in 2011.

Col. Feliciano Loy, a member of the general court-martial, said Undug was also cleared of all the charges against him, except for the deployment of soldiers then on scuba diving specialization training in Basilan to reinforce their ambushed colleagues.

Undug has filed a motion for reconsideration, saying the deployment was a matter of exigency that needed prompt action.

Peña, on the other hand, has yet to file any motion, Loy said. He was the ground commander of the botched military operation that targeted lawless elements in Basilan led by jail escapee Dan Laksaw Asnawi, kidnapping ring leader Loong Malat, and Abu Sayyaf leader Furuji Indima. 

However, the troops were ambushed by Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels, aided by Abu Say-yaf militants, triggering daylong fighting that left 19 soldiers dead.

The MILF leadership later admitted that its fighters took part in the clash but blamed the soldiers for entering its so-called area of temporary stay without proper coordination.

Presiding over a command conference at Camp Aguinaldo after the carnage, President Aquino ordered an investigation into the incident with an instruction to file necessary charges against the Army officers responsible for the botched anti-terror and anti-kidnapping operation.

The Armed Forces leadership then convened a military board of inquiry and later a court of inquiry which recommended the relief and trial of the four senior officers. 

All four senior officers, submitting themselves before the jurisdiction of the military court, appealed for a speedy trial if only to prove their innocence.

ABU SAY ABU SAYYAF ALEXANDER MACARIO AND LT AMINKADRA UNDUG ARMED FORCES BARANGAY CAMBOG BASILAN BASILAN ISLAND CAMP AGUINALDO DAN LAKSAW ASNAWI SPECIAL FORCES
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