MANILA, Philippines – Brigadier General Alexander Macario was among 7 newly promoted one-star Army generals on Monday, August 1.
Macario was the commander of the Philippine Army elite unit in Basilan that lost 19 soldiers in 2011 in one of the bloodiest clashes between security troops and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in the past decade, second only to the Mamasapano bloodbath that killed 44 cops in 2015.
He was relieved over the clash and faced court martial over alleged violation of Articles of War. But he was acquitted in November 2012 and regained full-duty status.
Macario claimed he was bypassed in the planning and was only informed of the operation when the troops had already been prepositioned.
Two other Army officers in the operation, then Colonel Aminkadra Undug and Lieutenant Colonel Leo Peña, were convicted for violating military articles of war. (Read: Fiasco in Basilan by Rappler executive editor Maria Ressa)
In his speech at the Army headquarters on Monday, Macario said he had feared that the Al Barka fiasco would be the end of his military career. Army spokesman Benjamin Hao told reporters: “During his speech, he said he really thought he will not get a promotion anymore. But he did not let those thoughts stop him from doing a good job,”
The Philippine Army and the Department of National Defense recommended his promotion to President Rodrigo Duterte, who approved it.
“We all make mistakes but General Macario performed well. The unfortunate incident did not stop him from performing his duties. That’s why he was given the promotion,” Hao added.
Macario was appointed 3 months ago to command the elite Light Reaction Regiment (LRR), a unit of the Special Command (SOCOM) trained for urban warfare such as the Zamboanga siege.
Macario is a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1985. – Carmela Fonbuena/Rappler.com