MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) - One of the 4 military officers linked to the 2011 Al Barka killings has been found guilty of violating a military article of war, based on a recent decision of a court martial body handling the case.
Army Col Aminkadra Undug was found guilty of violating Article of War 97 or conduct prejudicial to good order and military discipline. The military court issued the verdict on January 8, according to military sources, but it reached the office of Armed Forces chief of staff Gen Jessie Dellosa only on Thursday, January 10.
Undug will remain in the military but will face the following penalties: an admonition, suspension from holding any command position for 6 months and the reduction by 50 files, or levels, in the seniority lineal list.
He is the most senior military officer in recent history to be punished in connection with a military operation. Undug is closely associated with Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, a retired Army general who was also a Special Forces member.
Undug was the commander of the Special Forces training school who gave the go-signal to deploy a team of soldiers undergoing scuba training to a remote Basilan town in October 2011.
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. (Read: Can bemedalled officer fix Basilan's problems?)
Two other Army officers implicated in the fiasco -- Col Alex Macario and Lt Col Orlando Edralin -- were acquitted last Oct 30, 2012.