Outgoing SOTF Basilan chief breaks silence PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 27 October 2011 16:08

Col. Alex Macario, the outgoing commander of Special Operation Task Force Basilan, broke his silence last Tuesday, a week after the military debacle that left 19 soldiers killed and 11 wounded in the island province.

In his so-called exit press conference, Col. Macario insisted that they have coordinated with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Basilan before the military operation was carried out in Al Barka last Oct. 18.

He said the Oct. 18 military operation was legitimate because they were running after wanted Abu Sayyaf members Long Palad, Nurhassan Jamiri and Laksaw Asnawi.

Macario said they were confident the MILF rebels would not attack them because they have coordinated with Hudlimaya Salim, a top MILF leader in Basilan.
Earlier, the MILF denied that the military has coordinated with the rebel group.

Macario said the MILF rebels took the firearms and other equipment of the slain soldiers.

He said if the MILF is sincere in the peace negotiation with the government, they should turn over those stolen firearms and equipment and surrender those rebels wanted by the law.

The outgoing commander quoted soldier-survivors of the gunbattle to have said that the Abu Sayyaf gunmen suddenly had strong firepower and their forces were doubled because MILF guerrillas have joined the firefight against the government forces.

Ghadzali Jaafar had denied that the MILF is harboring and coddling members who are wanted for kidnapping and other crimes. — Richard Falcatan