MANILA - The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Southern Luzon Command has disallowed 25 Army officers and men linked to the Atimonan encounter from joining operations or going on leave.
The movements of the soldiers, led by 1st Special Forces Battalion commander Lt. Col. Monico Abang, have been restricted so they will be readily available for investigations in connection with the January 6 incident.
"We restricted our soldiers so that they are ready to give their statements when there is investigation, submit documents," said the command’s spokesperson Col. Generoso Bolina.
He said the order was issued by Solcom chief Maj. Gen. Alan Luga.
He clarified, however, that they are not being relieved. "They are not relieved at the moment. They will just be there at their (headquarters), they cannot go on pass, they cannot go on operation but they are ready (for investigation) in their area in Candelaria, Quezon where they are based.”
Abang, for example, can give direct operations from battalion headquarters, Bolina added.
The security forces earlier claimed they merely retaliated when individuals, some allegedly belonging to a gun-for-hire group, opened fire at them at a checkpoint.
The PNP, in a subsequent probe, said the 13 individuals are victims of an ambush.