Armed Forces commanders involved in an operation against communists rebels in Oriental Mindoro that left 11 soldiers dead are now under investigation for possible lapses, a military spokesperson said Monday.
Last Saturday, 20 members of the 23rd Division Reconnaissance Company chanced upon an encampment of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Brgy. Panaytayan, Mansalay, when around 50 rebels open fired on the platoon. The group was responding to reports of communist extortion from local candidates in the area.
Armed Forces spokesperson Lt. Col. Romeo Brawner said the company commander of the division reconnaissance company and the battalion commander of the 4th Infantry Battalion have already been asked by the Armed Forces national officials to explain. “Pinatawag na ang lahat po ng involved sa operation,” he said over dzXL radio.
“Our own leadership wants to look into the incident, our lapses, so that we can learn from our mistakes,” Brawner said.
But Brawner said that it is “too early to say” whether these commanders should be immediately relieved unless there are evidence they committed lapses in judgment before and during the operation. He said the investigating team would study the actions of the troop and then compare it to the operation order from the higher ups.
Brawner defended the Army commanders for allowing the reconnaissance troop to engage in a battle.
In theory, reconnaissance platoon only serves as the eyes of the main military body. Any information this group obtains from its surveillance, on the location of the enemies for instance, must then be passed on to the main body.
Brawner said, “Yes, they have to pass the information to a main body, pero dito sa nangyari, sa ating rules of engagement, kapag nandun na sila, they are also authorized to engage.”