Posted at 05/01/2012 8:48 PM | Updated as of 05/02/2012 6:46 AM
MANILA, Philippines – An Army commander in the Bicol region has been ordered relieved of his post after communist New People’s Army (NPA) rebels killed 4 soldiers and a civilian in Camarines Norte last Sunday.
Army 49th Infantry Battalion commander Lt. Col. Epimaco Macalisang is being relieved from his post for command responsibility and lapses, according to Maj. Gen. Josue Gaverza, commander of the Army’s 9th Infantry Division.
“That’s standard (operating procedure). If it’s a debacle, he should be replaced. That’s standard, that’s how the rules in the military work. If it’s a debacle, you should give way to others who can do better and recover. That’s (relief) expected,” Gaverza said.
Around 20 NPA rebels attacked 9 unarmed soldiers while the government troops were holding house-to-house dialogues in Maot village in Labo town last Sunday.
The soldiers had to retrieve their weapons at a barangay hall before they were able to fight back.
Gaverza said Macalisang has a “big command responsibility” for the death of 5 people.
“We are assessing further. If the higher unit commander has a lapse, it (relief orders) will go up,” he said.
The military Board of Inquiry (BOI) is set to investigate the incident.
The BOI is also looking into the death of 11 soldiers and a civilian in a separate attack by NPA rebels in Ifugao.
Army 5th Infantry Division spokesman Col. Miguel Puyao said no relief order has yet been issued over the Ifugao ambush.
“You cannot just relieve (officers) without the result of the BOI. The decision of the commander will depend on it. he cannot just decide without the (result of the) BOI. This also gives justice to the people (involved),” he said.
Army spokesman Maj. Harold Cabunoc said field commanders have been reminded to beef up their security.
“With the recent atrocities, ground commanders have been reminded to strictly implement security measures to minimize and preempt unnecessary loss of lives,” he said.
“Unit commanders are also required to continuously train the soldiers on basic soldiery skills to counter the enemy’s tactics, and to require them to be security-conscious all the time,” he added.