Army major faces court martial for drugs

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A MILITARY officer arrested over the weekend for his alleged involvement in illegal drug operations faces court martial and dismissal from the service, the Philippine Army said on Sunday.

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Col. Benjamin Hao, Army spokesman, said Maj. Suharto Tambidan Macabuat, 40, is being investigated. Macabuat and his wife were arrested during an anti-illegal drug operation by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Cagayan de Oro City on Saturday.

“We are now initiating an investigation on the matter. The Army will not tolerate any of its personnel involved in illegal drugs operation,” Hao said.

“If there is evidence that will show Macabuat is indeed linked with illegal drug operations, he will be referred to either the military court martial or the Army’s Efficiency and Separation Board. This is without prejudice to the possible filing of criminal cases against him,” Hao added.

Based on Army records, Macabuat is married to Haj Johairah Bagumbung Macabuat, a businesswoman.

As part of the government’s intensified campaign against illegal drugs, military officers and reservists were tested for drugs.

The results showed that 1,000 reservists tested negative.

Col. Noel Buan, acting Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Deputy Chief of Staff for Reservist and Retiree Affairs, joined AFP Reserve Command Chief Brig. Gen. Leoncio A. Cirunay, Jr., who led the drug testing at the AFP Reserve Command Headquarters.

“Brigadier General Cirunay and I would like to set an example to our reservists,” Buan said.

Buan was awarded the Medal of Valor for his acts of conspicuous courage, gallantry and intrepidity when he was a lieutenant colonel. He fought an undetermined number of Abu Sayyaf bandits for more than an hour in Barangay Makiri in Lantawan, Basilan Province on April 8, 2004.

The AFP Reserve Command joins the military’s Procurement Service, Command and General Staff College and the Headquarters Service Command as drug-free units.

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