Members of court martial for Al Barka bloodbath named
MANILA, Philippines – Armed Forces chief General Jessie Dellosa has named the members of the general court martial that will try the four accused Army officers involved in the Al Barka incident, which left 19 of Army’s Special Forces slaughtered by Abu Sayyaf and Moro Islamic Liberation Front forces in October last year, a military spokesman said Monday.
Colonel Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos Jr. said Dellosa approved the appointment of Brigadier General Teodoro Cirilo Torralba III, a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1980, as the President of the GCM. He is currently the senior Military Adviser of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP).
The members of the court martial are Army’s Colonel Dante Talino, Col. Domingo Tutaan Jr., Col. Wilfred Bonilla, Col. Joel Celino, Col. Rafael Sera and Air Force’s Col Andre Tanyag. The alternate members are Col. Rafael Valencia and Col. Arwel Oropesa, both from the Army.
The Law members are Col. Feliciano Loy and Lieutenant Colonel Gery Puluhanan, both from the Judge Advocate General Service (JAGS). The Trial Judge Advocates are Lt. Col. Ser-Me Ayuyao, Lt. Col. Liberato Ramos, and Major Vener Malabanan III (all from JAGS). The military defense counsels are Major Rosel Tan, Maj. Julius Agdeppa and Maj. Gabrielle Octava (all from JAGS).
The orders, which took effect on April 16, were already issued to the officers appointed as members of the GCM who will hear the arraignment of the four accused Army officers.
The officers accused were Lt. Col. Leonardo I. Peña, former Commanding Officer of the 4th Special Forces Battalion, Col. Alexander Macario, former Commander of Special Operations Task Force – Basilan Province, Col. Amikandra S. Undug, former Regiment Commander of Special Forces Regiment (Airborne), Special Operations Command, Lt. Col. Orlando D. Edralin, former Commandant of Special Forces School, for 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.
After the conclusion of the pre-trial investigation (PTI) of the Al-Barka case, the PTI report was submitted to The Judge Advocate General, BGen Gilberto Jose C. Roa for the conduct of a pre-trial advice (PTA).
Roa viewed that all the charges and specifications against the respondent AFP officers should be referred for trial by the general court martial where all of their respective defenses could properly be ventilated in a full-blown trial. This is also due to the existence of a prima facie evidence against the respondents, Burgos said.
The PTA was intended to advice the Chief of Staff, as the convening authority of GCM the propriety of approving or disapproving the findings and recommendations by the PTI Officer. This was then immediately approved by Dellosa, he added.
The next step is the arraignment of all the accused military personnel in the said case before the military court. Afterwards, it will be followed by the presentation of prosecution evidence and once the prosecution rests its case, the presentation of the defense evidence will ensue. Rebuttal evidence may be presented by both sides. Next, the case will be submitted for resolution, Burgos also said.
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