Personal, psychological issues seen in amok soldier’s case
MANILA, Philippines — A 37-year-old soldier who went on vacation because of family woes ended up killing at least five of his colleagues and injuring nine others during a Bible study session in Sumisip, Basilan.
Cpl. Tahiruddin Taha allegedly went amok with an M16 rifle and fired at the around 30 participants of the session on Thursdaymorning, after which he was shot dead by responding soldiers.
The tragedy happened at the headquarters of the Bravo Company of the 64th Infantry Battalion, where the suspect was assigned as a gunner of the mortar section.
Taha went on a shooting spree at around 8:45 a.m.in the company headquarters in Upper Cabengbeng in Sumisip, Basilan.
“We believe that it’s an isolated incident, and we will look closer into its medical and psychological aspects to determine the root cause,” said Philippine Army spokesperson Col. Benjamin Hao.
Taha killed 1lt Camlon Martin Puao, 2Lt Alvin Ebina, Cpl Robert Jondayran, PFC Jessrell Calud and SSgt Jonathan Galicto.
Injured were 1Lt Pada Guingar, the company commander, TSgt Jerry Cardoza, Sgt Anthony Bentoy, PFC Elber Noble, PFC Ruel Macalapay, PFC Nelson Calambro, PFC Junnel Cajote, PFC Remie Espanola Jr., and Pastor Rolly Matson who led the Bible study.
“Every soldier that we lose is a huge blow to us. There were many soldiers killed, so this is a very big loss to us,” Hao said.
Only Taha was armed with an M16 rifle while the participants of the session were all unarmed.
A week ago, the soldier came back from a vacation after requesting for a break, citing family problems as the cause.
“When he came back, his colleagues noticed that he grew to be quiet and sad, unlike his usual self who was approachable and jolly,” Hao said.
At around 8 a.m. Thursday, the suspect approached the soldier rendering duty at the guard post of the military installation, asking if he could replace him as the sentinel on duty.
However, the soldier on duty told the suspect that his shift would start at noon and he could only go on duty by that time.
“Taha then said, ‘Sige, maglalaba na lang ako.’ Then he went back to the barracks behind the multipurpose center where the Bible study was being held,” Hao said.
Forty five minutes later, Taha went to the back of the multipurpose center and opened fire on the hapless participants of the Bible study session.
The soldier on duty and other troops heard the shots and responded to the scene, killing Taha instantly.
The suspect was reportedly a Moro National Liberation Front rebel integree from Indanan, Sulu. He had no derogatory records or administrative cases lodged against him.
Hao said they would send a team of Army doctors and psychologists to Basilan to investigate the killings and to provide medical and psychological intervention for the survivors.
“We look at this at a medical and psychological aspect as of now. We want to find out what happened to prevent these kinds of incidents. Of course, the survivors are suffering from trauma, and we want to check on these things,” the military official said.
Enlisted men are required to undergo medical and psychological exams every three years before reenlisting, according to Hao. They would also be required to undergo the same exams when applying for promotion, Hao explained.
Those injured were airlifted to the military station hospital of the Western Mindanao Command in Zamboanga City.
The 64th Infantry Battalion and the local police are investigating amok attack as the Army assured the public that the necessary assistance would be provided to the victims’ families
Hao added that because of the deaths of two officers and the wounding of the Bravo company commander, a new officer was named to lead the company.
“The Army is really saddened by this incident, our colleagues died. Every time we hear things like this, this really hurts us. We want to find out more about what happened so we can correct it,” he said. SFM
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