By ANTHONY VARGAS
The Philippine Army’s Board of Investigators (BOI) has recommended the discharge of four soldiers for “misbehaviour” during an ambush by communist rebels in Oriental Mindoro early this month that killed 12 troops and wounded nine others.
The BOI also recommended the immediate relief of a battalion commander for the “tactical blunder” that led to the government’s single biggest lost to the New People’s Army (NPA) this year.
“The BOI recommended for the discharge of four survivors who remained in the engagement area during and immediately after the ambush incident,” Army spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Ernesto Torres Jr., said, quoting the board’s findings.
The four – Privates First Class Guerero dela Cruz, Glenn Guibone, Obar Ercilla, and Private Juralph Culili – were found guilty of violating Articles of War 76, or misbehaviour before the enemy, and 97, for conduct prejudicial to good order and military discipline.
The board also recommended the relief of Lieutenant Colonel Sino Cruz, commander of the 4th Infantry Battalion (IB), who was cited for lack of supervision and control of troops.
“He is relieved for lack of close supervision and control over the personnel of the operating troops involved in the battalion initiated combat operations particularly during the planning stage,” Torres said.
Cruz will be replaced by Lieutenant Colonel Johnny Macaranas.
While the BOI found “operational lapses” by the troops of the 23rd Division Reconnaissance Company (DRC) led by 1st Lieutenant Ronnie Sipsip, who was among the killed soldiers, it saw “no merit…to such allegation that there was lack or absence of training of troops.”
“The 23DRC had conducted several company-initiated trainings and had participated in several 203rd Infantry Brigade-initiated and 2nd Infantry Division-initiated trainings and seminars,” the BOI findings said.
The 23RDC was on combat patrol when it stumbled onto an NPA camp in Barangay Panaytayan, Mansalay town, triggering a three-hour gun battle.