The Armed Forces has approved an investigation panel’s recommendation to have four senior Army officers undergo court martial proceedings for the clash in Basilan that left 19 soldiers dead.

Colonel Arnulfo Burgos, AFP public affairs chief, said Gen. Eduardo Oban approved the court of inquiry’s recommendation over the weekend, before stepping down as military chief on Monday.

“This will pave the way for pre-trial investigation (PTI) before the conduct of court martial proceedings.. the PTI is for them (accused) to be given the chance to submit their counter-affidavits,” Burgos told reporters.

Burgos declined to name the four “pending formal and official notification,” but said they will be facing charges of violating Article of War 97 (conduct prejudicial to good order and military discipline) in relation to the Revised Penal Code’s Article 365 (imprudence and negligence).

“The four will be made available for the proceedings,” Burgos said.

A military officer, who requested anonymity for lack of authority to speak on the matter, said the officers “may be relieved.”

It can be recalled that after the October 18 clash in Al Barka, the Army leadership relieved Col. Alexander Macario as head of Special Operations Task Force Basilan and Lt. Col. Leo Peña as commander of the 4th Special Forces Battalion, the unit involved in the fighting with Moro Islamic Liberation Front members. (John Roson)

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