AFP panel to probe Al-Barka operation
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will decide early next month whether or not to court martial the officers involved in the October 18 military operation in Al-Barka, Basilan, that resulted in the death of 19 Army Special Forces troops and the wounding of 15 others.
AFP Chief of Staff General Eduardo Oban Jr. is expected to appoint Monday the officers who will sit in a “court of inquiry” to look into the clash between the military and the rebel Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) that threatened to disrupt peace negotiations between the government and the secessionist group.
The panel, to be headed by a general, will “pinpoint the culpability of officers and determine the heroic deeds of the soldiers” in the eight-hour gun battle with MILF rebels.
“I told them that by Monday the court of inquiry should be constituted and we start the investigation as soon as possible,” Oban said when interviewed at the AFP Grandstand in Camp Aguinaldo where he joined hundreds in watching Manny Pacquiao fight Juan Miguel Marquez.
“I told them we have to be done with that in three weeks,” added Oban.
Oban ordered the creation of a court of inquiry last week after receiving the findings of AFP Inspector General Major General Irineo Espino on the clash.
The findings remain confidential although unconfirmed reports said they contain complaints of some men that the Al-Barka operation was not sufficiently planned and had involved scuba diving trainees who were not prepared for battle. Some said reinforcements also arrived too late. Dona Z. Pazzibugan