Military court clears 2 officers in Al-Barka fiasco
A general court martial clears 2 officers charged in connection with a botched military operation in Basilan that killed 19 soldiers

MANILA, Philippines – Due to “insufficient evidence,” a military court has cleared two of 4 military officers earlier punished for the botched Oct 18, 2011 Al-Barka operation that killed 19 soldiers, mostly trainees, in Basilan.

Cleared on October 30 by a general court martial (GCM) were Col Alexander Macario, former commander of Special Operations Task Force-Basilan, and Lt Col Orlando Edralin, former commander of the Special Forces training school, according to Col. Jose Feliciano Loy, a member of the GCM.

Loy said Macario and Edralin will return to full-duty status.

Both Macario and Edralin were relieved from their posts after the massacre, which was the result of a bungled operation by the Special Forces (SF). On Oct 18, 2011, the SF deployed mostly trainees under the 4th Special Forces Battalion to Al-Barka, Basilan, a stronghold of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Abu Sayyaf. Unfamiliar with the terrain and lacking in reinforcement, the troops were gunned down by MILF rebels.

The incident prompted court martial proceedings against Macario, Edralin, Lt Col Leonardo Peña, the immediate commander of the troops, and Col. Amikandra Undog, the former commander of the Special Forces Regiment.

The officers were accused of violating Articles of War 96 (Conduct
Unbecoming of an Officer and Gentleman) and 97 (Disorders and Neglects to the Prejudice of Good Order and Military Discipline).

Trial against Undug and Peña will continue, Loy said. –


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