MAWAB, Compostela Valley Province – An army officer and 12 others will face general court martial as probe revealed that there was indeed ‘tactical’ lapse into the killing of the wife and two sons of armed bandit leader Daguil Capeon in Kimlawis, Davao del Sur on October 18.
In a six-page report of the Philippine Army’s Board of Inquiry, headed by its Division Inspector General Col. Fidel Francis Pumihic, 1Lt. Dante Jimenez admitted he failed to assess if it was the criminal group New People’s Army or the group of Capeon sheltering inside the house.
In his statement, Jimenez said he, along with Cpl. Godio, Cpl. Namla, and Pfc. Gamayot, were 200 meters away from the house. He dispatched Sgt. Murillo, along with Pfc. Lopez, Cpl. Majid, Cpl. Sahali, Cpl. Jadjuli and Cpl. Said, to close in but was fired upon by shooters from the direction of the house prompting them to also return fire. While Sgt. Ballenas, Pfc. Tayamora and Pfc. Julian claimed that they did not fire. Accordingly, there were 43 bullet entry holes on the hut alone but, based on the spot report, only 19 bullets were expended by the troops. However, the result of the investigation did not determine as to whose bullets killed the victims.
After the incident, one Rifle Grenade, two combat packs with personal belongings, 5.56mm empty shells and two m16 rifle magazines long with 20 rounds of 5.56mm live ammo were recovered in the area believed to be belonging to the group of Capeon.
“There was a lapse of judgment on the company commander for he failed to direct his men in accordance to the Rules of engagement”, 10th Infantry Division Spokesperson Lt. Col. Lyndon Paniza said affirming the violation committed. However, he robs off massacre allegations and claimed that it was a legitimate encounter.
In part six, the report stated that it was a legitimate encounter contrary to claims of groups that there was none. To recall, in his previous interviews, bandit leader Capeon said he was alone several meters away from the house and has denied having fired at pursuing troops which was supported by Marisa Capeon Piang during interviews. However, it was not clarified how and when the latter saw the bandit leader in the area.
According to Paniza, based on the recommendation of the BOI, Jimenez and 12 others will face a general court martial to be convened by Philippine Army to hear and decide cases for violations of the Article of War 76 (Misbehaviour before the Enemy) of the ROE – particularly rules 4 and 5; the Article of War 96 (Conduct Unbecoming an Officer and Gentleman) and the Article of War 97 (Conduct Prejudicial to Good Order and Military Discipline).
“Since the operation was quad-size and was initiated within the company commander’s level, it was the responsibility of 1Lt. Jimenez to assess the situation and properly brief his troops about the confronted circumstances”, Paniza said. He also added that the other 12 enlisted personnel are also facing raps in violating the 76th Article of War and the 97th Article of War.
“Though we have yet to wait for the result of the ballistics’ test to know from whose shot really killed Jovy, and the two children, still, we have to promulgate necessary measures to our men who made violations (to ROE)”, Paniza said.
He also added that an order has been issued for the full internalization of every member of the Armed Forces of the rules of engagement, especially to battalions and units under 10th ID, through series of simulated activities in every trainings to avoid the same incident.