AFP chief orders new probe on 'friendly fire' deaths
MANILA, Philippines – Armed Forces chief General Emmanuel Bautista is constituting a new body that will probe the accidental death of 6 elite soldiers in June because of friendly fire in Sulu.
"I'm constituting a Board of Inquiry from the level of the general headquarters to look into this report and find out what we can do and the appropriate action we need to take to address the issue," Bautista told reporters on Friday, July 11.
Asked if officers will be punished for the incident, Bautista said: "I would not want to preempt the investigation." Bautista is retiring next week, July 18.
The Zamboanga-based Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) had earlier submitted a report to Bautista confirming that 6 soldiers were killed on June 19, when they were hit by 105-mm howitzer fire from the Marines, instead of the intended target – the Abu Sayyaf Group.
The incident killed the following members of Joint Special Operations Group (JSOG):
- Staff Sergeant Efren G. Manayon
- Sergeant Marvin P. Casareno
- Sergeant Randy V. Reyes
- Sergeant Dexter S. Buntia
- Corporal Randy Morada
- Corporal Jose Mario M. Moron
"It is an unfortunate incident. Nobody wants that but it happens as you all know even among the best armies in the world, even the US Army in Afghanistan. It’s a hazard that we face as members of the armed forces," Bautista said.
The tragedy was initially blamed on the Abu Sayyaf. The Marines at the time were exchanging heavy gunfire with the terrorist group, which cost the life of First Lieutenant Roger Flores and wounded 12 other Marines.
After Flores was hit, his unit asked for fire support from headquarters. The Marine base responded. But a military probe showed that instead of hitting the Abu Sayyaf, the howitzer landed on the forward base camp of JSOG and killed the soldiers. – Rappler.com