Three Army Special Forces colonels were removed from their posts following the clash with Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters that left 19 soldiers dead earlier this week.

Army chief Lt. Gen. Arturo Ortiz ordered the relief of Col. Alexander Macario as head of Special Operations Task Force Basilan.

Macario was removed from his post “after further inquiry showed lapses on his part,” Ortiz said in a text message to reporters late Friday.

Macario will be replaced by Col. Ramon Yogyog effective the same day, Ortiz said.

Colonel Antonio Parlade, meanwhile, was removed as Army spokesman after appearing in television interviews saying that troops were “demoralized” by the clash and that “in his opinion,” the ceasefire with the MILF should be suspended.

“Yes it’s confirmed, I just did my job, said what I think was right,” Parlade said in a text message to reporters, confirming his relief.

“I’m happy knowing our soldiers’ voice and sentiments were heard. We are not politicians. We are soldiers, professional soldiers. We are ready to take the bullet are whatever cost,” he added.

A military source, who requested anonymity, said it was President Benigno Aquino himself who ordered Parlade’s removal as Army spokesman.

“He (Parlade) is supposed to be a spokesman, he sould go back to school… if you are a spokesman, you should not be saying those things,” the source said, quoting the President.

Parlade had served as commander of the 1st Special Forces Battalion, which operates in rebel infested areas in the Southern Tagalog region, before taking over the Army Chief of Public Affairs office in Fort Bonifacio.

Major Harold Cabunoc was ordered by Ortiz to serve as acting Army spokesman.

On Wednesday, Ortiz relieved Lt. Col. Leo Peña as commander of the 4th Special Forces Battalion, the Army unit that was involved in Tuesday’s deadly clash in Al Barkah.

Lieutenant Col. Jose Laplap, the deputy SOTF Basilan commander, was appointed as acting head of the 4SFBn. (John Roson)

– end –