Peace panels of the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) agreed to “drop and close” the case regarding the bloody clash in Al Barkah, Basilan, last October, after their forces were found to have violated the ongoing ceasefire, a military official said Thursday.

Colonel Dickson Hermoso, head of the Armed Forces’ Peace Process Office, said the International Monitoring Team (IMT) found that both the soldiers and MILF fighters violated the ceasefire by not properly coordinating with one another.

“Kulang-kulang (ang coordination) so that is why we are instituting some more measures na similar incident will not happen in the future… both sides committed the same offense,” Hermoso told reporters.

The IMT, which is a creation of the peace panels, presented its report during the two sides’ meeting in Malaysia last month, according to the official.

“In the panels’ meeting in Kuala Lumpur last week, they agreed to drop and close the case… they are also imposing their own sanction to their immediate commanders,” Hermoso said.

Days after the Oct. 18 clash, which left 19 soldiers and five MILF fighters dead, the military relieved Col. Alexander Macario and Lt. Col. Leo Peña as head of Special Operations Task Force Basilan and commander of the 4th Special Forces Battalion, respectively.

Colonel Aminkadra Undog, commander of the Special Forces Regiment, and Lt. Col. Orlando Edralin, head of the Special Forces Training School, were removed from their posts in December.

The four are undergoing pre-trial investigation and are facing court martial proceedings.

“They (MILF) are also imposing their own sanction to their immediate commanders but I cannot give the details on what, it’s their panel who can explain,” Hermoso said.

Hermoso, however, noted that the “closure” and sanctions agreed upon by the peace panels will not stop the military from pursuing the criminal liability of MILF members charged by the police for the clash.

“‘Yung criminal liability, it’s still there hanging and there is a warrant of arrest, as soon as matapos ‘yung kanilang sanction then they will face this, hindi pa mawawala ‘yun,” he said.

On November 4, the PNP’s 9th Criminal Investigation and Detection Unit filed charges of multiple murder and multiple frustrated murder against 13 MILF commanders.

Among those charged is Dan Laksaw Asnawi, a sub-commander of the MILF 114th Base Command whose forces clashed with members of the Army 4th Scout Ranger Battalion.

Also charged were Long Malat, Suhud Limaya alias Hud, Asul Musawarin alias Abubakar Muslimin, alias Rene/Musao, Abdulgappar Imambakal, Asdatul Sahiron alias Abu Nawas, alias Commander Faising, Sali Boni, alias Commander Idris, Commander Basir, Kolalon Polon, Munib Habibun, and 300 John and Peter Does. (John Roson)

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