The Armed Forces has approved the filing of criminal and administrative charges against, and may dismiss, an Army captain and two enlisted personnel for torturing a suspected Abu Sayyaf member in Basilan.

Lieutenant Gen. Raymundo Ferrer, chief of the Western Mindanao Command, approved the recommendation of an investigating team that Capt. Sherwin Guidangen, Ssgt. Elmer Magdaraog, and Sgt. George Awing be charged for violation of Republic Act 9745 or the Anti-Torture Law, AFP spokesman Commodore Miguel Jose Rodriguez said.

The team, composed of members of the Judge Advocate General’s Office and Provost Marshall of Wesmincom, found “sufficient grounds” to charge the three, Rodriguez said in a briefing.

Once charged under the criminal justice system, the three may be dismissed from service, according to the military spokesman.

“The standard operating procedure here is that if an enlisted man has been charged with a criminal offense, he will be discharged from the service,” Rodriguez told reporters

Guidangen, being a commissioned officer, will be referred to the Efficiency and Separations Board (ESB) while Magdaraog and Awing will undergo summary dismissal proceedings, Rodriguez said.

“If the ESB determines that he is no longer fit to be in the service then they will recommend the discharge of Capt. Guidangen,” he said.

Guidangen, Magdaraog, Awing, and Sgt. Edgardo Santos, all members of the Army 1st Infantry Division’s Special Operations Task Force Basilan, were all placed under “technical arrest” on July 27 for allegedly torturing Abdul Khan Ajid, earlier reported as Kanneh Malikil.

Ajid, reportedly involved in a kidnapping and illegal detention case, was allegedly poured with gasoline and set to fire by the soldiers.

Santos was cleared of the accusations, Rodriguez said, without providing other details.

Investigation was still ongoing to determine whether the soldiers’ commander should also be held reponsible for the incident, according to the military spokesman. (John Roson)

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