Special Forces commander sacked
The commander of the Army’s 4th Special Forces Battalion was sacked in the wake of the big number of casualties suffered by elite troops in a daylong gun battle with Moro rebels in Al-Barka, Basilan, on Tuesday.
Lieutenant General Arturo Ortiz, Army commanding general, ordered the relief of Lieutenant Colonel Leo Peña as battalion commander “effective immediately.”
Ortiz, a former Special Forces commander, directed the deputy commander of the Special Operations Task Force Basilan, Lieutenant Colonel Jose Laplap, to assume the post vacated by Peña.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte extended Malacañang’s sympathies to the families of the slain soldiers.
Government chief negotiator Marvic Leonen also expressed sadness over the bloody encounter but indicated this would not affect the peace talks, due to begin next month in Malaysia.
“We are certain that this is an isolated incident,’’ Leonen said in a statement.
He expressed confidence that the current mechanisms in monitoring violations of the ceasefire agreement were in place and working.
Leonen said his panel was making preparations for its meeting with the MILF panel next month.
Meanwhile, Lieutenant General Raymundo Ferrer, commander of Western Mindanao Command said that he has ordered to pursue the group responsibe for the killing of the soldiers, as quoted by spokesman Colonel Randolph Cabangbang.
Quoting Ferrer, Cabangbang also said that they will not only file ceasefire violations against them but also murder and frustrated murder charges against the members who are responsible for killing and wounding of the soldiers.
He added they are closely coordinating with the Committee on Ceasefire Cessation of Hostilities so that the troops could enter the area of temporary stay by the MILF.
Nineteen of the government troops have been killed, 13 were wounded and three remain missing, he also said. With Frances Mangosing, INQUIRER.net
Originally posted: 5:50 pm | Wednesday, October 19th, 2011