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MANILA, Philippines - The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has convened the General Courts-Martial (GCM) that will try and hear the cases against four senior military officers accused in the 2011 Al-Barka carnage in Basilan that killed 19 soldiers after probable cause was established.
AFP chief of staff Gen. Jessie Dellosa has approved the appointment of Brig. Gen. Teodoro Cirilo Torralba III as the president of the GCM that will hear the cases against Lt. Col. Leonardo Peña, former Commanding Officer of the 4th Special Forces Battalion; Col. Alexander Macario, former Commander of Special Operations Task Force–Basilan Province; Col. Amikandra.Undug, former Regiment Commander of Special Forces Regiment (Airborne), Special Operations Command (SOCOM); and Lt. Col. Orlando Edralin, former Commandant of Special Forces School, SOCOM.
The four were accused of violating Article 84 (Willful or Negligent Loss, Damage or Wrongful Disposition); Article 96 (Conduct Unbecoming an Officer and Gentleman); and Article 97 (Disorders and Neglects to the Prejudice of Good Order and Military Discipline) of the Articles of War in connection with the carnage that claimed the lives of 19 soldiers in clash with members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) last October 19, 2011.
Some of the soldiers’ bodies were mutilated.
The Judge Advocate General (TJAG) Brig. Gen. Gilberto Jose Roa viewed that all the charges against the four military officers “should be referred for trial by GCM where all of their respective defenses could properly be ventilated in a full-blown trial. This is also due to the existence of a prima facie evidence against the respondents.”
Torralba is a member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) “Mapitagan” Class of 1980. He is a former Division Inspector General of the 9th Infantry Division, Philippine Army (PA) based in Camarines Sur. Previously, Torralba served as the commander of the 902nd Infantry Brigade, 9ID PA based in Camarines Norte.
Other members that will comprise the GCM are Col. Dante Talino, Col Domingo Tutaan Jr., Col Wilfred Bonilla, Col Joel Celino, Col Rafael Sera (all from Philippine Army) and Col Andre Tanyag (from Philippine Air Force).
The Alternate Members are Col Rafael Valencia and Col Arwel Oropesa, both from the Army. The Law members are Col Feliciano Loy and LtCol Gery Puluhanan, both from the Judge Advocate General Service (JAGS).
The Trial Judge Advocates are LtCol Ser-Me Ayuyao, LtCol Liberato Ramos, and Maj Vener Malabanan III (all from JAGS). The military Defense Counsels are Maj. Rosel Tan, Maj Julius Agdeppa and Maj Gabrielle Octava (all from JAGS).
With the composition of the GCM already approved, the next step is the arraignment of all the accused military personnel before the military court. This will be followed by the presentation of prosecution evidence and once the prosecution rests its case, by the presentation of the defense evidence. Rebuttal evidence may be presented by both sides and thereafter, the case will be submitted for resolution.