Erring navy officers face relief, sanctions-NAVFORWEM PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 10 May 2017 17:03


Naval Forces Western Mindanao (NAVFORWEM) Command Chief Rear Admiral Rene Medina has ordered an in-depth investigation into the Sta. Cruz Island incident as initial probe showed infractions on the part of the two navy officers involved in the controversy.

In a letter addressed to Mayor Beng Climaco, Melad said the thorough investigation is purposely to determine and uncover what really transpired during the incident stressing that Lt. Darwin Guillarte, acting commanding officer of LC 29 (BRP Tausug ) and LTJG. Melad will be “subject under the governing rules of the Articles of War and will be given sanctions commensurate to the offense.”

Pending the full investigation, Medina has also recommended to the Philippine Fleet to relieve Guillarte of his command as acting commanding officer as well as Melad.

Initial investigations revealed that Guillarte “failed to take appropriate action to pull out or move the ship to the side of the beach as requested by city representatives as well as failed to control his men, particularly Melad as regards to the  proper demeanor in dealing with civilians.”

Meanwhile, Melad said Higher Headquarters has prohibited the utilization of navy ships in transporting people, equipment and goods to Sta. Cruz Island following the incident last April 28 and 29. Instead, the navy will its smaller boats, such as those made of fiber glass and rubber boats on missions to the Sta. Cruz island to avoid similar incidents.

At the same time, Melad informed Mayor Climaco that NAVFORWEM is working with Dr. Michael Macrohon for the restoration and rehabilitation of the affected coral reef bed.

The NAVFORWEM commander hoped that the affect the good relationship of the local government unit and the Navy stressing that measures are being taken to prevent similar incidents in the future. “Rest assured that the Navy, as always, shares your level of vigor and enthusiasm in conserving and protecting our coral reefs and other natural resources.”

Recall that BRP Tausug with beach goers onboard, dropped anchor at Sta. Cruz island damaging at least 10x10 feet of the coral reef bed.

In a meeting last Friday, the Protected Area Ecotourism Management Board (PAEMB), the body overseeing operations of Sta. Cruz Islands, resolved to create a technical working group to assess and appraise the damage inflicted on the coral reefs and at the same time asked NAVFORWEM to expedite  investigation on the incident and submit its report to the board in a week’s time.   (Sheila Covarrubias)