Officer to be tried for Lianga killings not a sacrificial lamb—Army chief
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – Army chief Lt. Gen. Eduardo Año on Thursday dismissed speculations that the officer who was recommended to be tried under court martial for the incident in Lianga, Surigao del Sur was a sacrificial lamb.
He said the army officer, whom he did not name, faces administrative charge before the military court for “what he did or failed to do.”
Año said that after the September 1 incident in Lianga, during which three persons were killed, Maj. Gen. Oscar Lactao, the commander of the 4th Infantry Division based here, created a Board of Inquiry to look into allegations that soldiers did nothing to stop the killings, which drove thousands of lumad into places they deemed safe.
“The result (of the inquiry) is out and one of the officers assigned in the area will undergo [court martial],” he said, adding that the same inquiry found probable cause to charge the officer under command responsibility.
Año said the timing of the announcement had nothing to do with the upcoming Senate investigation of the Lianga killings.
The senate inquiry will focus on the alleged killing of the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (Alcadev) Executive Director Emerito Samarca, Dionel Campos, chair of the Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod (MAPASU); and his cousin Bello Sinzo by alleged Magahat-Bagani warriors.
Capt. Joe Patrick Martinez, 4th ID spokesperson, said the officer was a platoon leader under the 75th Infantry Battalion.
“The board of inquiry made several recommendations, in which the company commander was reprimanded and the officer in charge of the battalion was relieved of his post,” Martinez said.
Año said the military would also cooperate with the Senate investigation, which would start on October 1.
“We welcome [the investigation] because it will help shed light and give us a chance to give our side on the incident in the wake of all that has been said about or against us by left-leaning groups. In fairness to everyone, to our troops, to the victims of the killing and the people in Lianga, it is better for us to be transparent about this situation,” Año said.
He said the mistake of the officer was that he apparently failed to act on the killings.
“But our soldiers are not in any way–directly or indirectly–connected or involved in the heinous crime of the killing of civilians in Lianga,” Año said.
Año also said the Army will help the police in arresting Marcos Bocales, Bob Tejero and Loloy Tejero, alleged leaders of the Magahat-Bagani, the same paramilitary group blamed for the killings.
“It is a law enforcement operation, we will support the police,” he said.
Año also warned Bagani warriors against arming themselves, saying that “we will not allow anyone to bear arms and roam outside their ancestral domain.” Bobby Lagsa, Inquirer Mindanao/CDG
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.