Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff Gen. Jessie D. Dellosa has approved the composition of the General Court Martial (GCM) which will try four Philippine Army (PA) officers in connection with the Al-Barka, Basilan fiasco where 19 Special Forces troopers were killed during an encounter with Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels on Oct. 18, 2011.
Dellosa said Brig. Gen. Teodoro Cirilo T. Torralba III has been appointed as the GCM president.
Other members of the GCM are Col. Dante Talino, Col. Domingo Tutaan Jr., Col. Wilfred Bonilla, Col. Joel Celino, Col Rafael Sera, all from the PA; and Col. Andre Tanyag from the Philippine Air Force.
Alternate members are Col. Rafael Valencia and Col. Arwel Oropesa, also both from the PA.
The Law members are Col. Feliciano Loy and Lt.Col. Gery Puluhanan, both from the Judge Advocate General Service (JAGS).
The trial judge advocates are Lt. Col. Ser-Me Ayuyao, Lt. Col. Liberato Ramos, and Maj. Vener Malabanan III, all from JAGS.
The military defense counsels are Major Rosel Tan, Major Julius Agdeppa and Major Gabrielle Octava, also all from JAGS.
Dellosa said orders have already been issued to the officers appointed as members of the GCM who will conduct the arraignment of the four accused PA officers.
Torralba, a member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) “Mapitagan” Class of 1980, is at present the senior military adviser of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP).
He is also a former division inspector general of the 9th Infantry Division based in Camarines Sur. He previously served as the commander of the 902nd Infantry Brigade based in Camarines Norte.
Facing trial are Lt. Col. Leonardo I. Peña, former commanding officer of the 4th Special Forces Battalion; Col. Alexander Macario, former commander of Special Operations Task Force–Basilan Province; Col. Amikandra S. Undug, former regiment commander of Special Forces Regiment (Airborne), Special Operations Command (SOCOM); and Lt. Col. Orlando D. Edralin, former commandant of the Special Forces School, SOCOM.
They have been 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.
After the conclusion of the Pre-Trial Investigation (PTI) of the Al-Barka case, the PTI Report was submitted by the PTI Officer to The Judge Advocate General (TJAG, AFP), Brig. Gen. Gilberto Jose C. Roa, for the conduct of a Pre-Trial Advice (PTA).
The PTA rendered by TJAG together with the PTI Report and allied documents of the case were submitted to the office of the chief-of-staff afterwards, with the recommendation to refer the case for GCM trial.
The PTA was intended to advice the chief-of-staff, as the convening authority of GCM, on the propriety of approving or disapproving the findings and recommendations by the PTI Officer. This was then immediately approved by Dellosa.