Three of the four soldiers killed in Jolo, Sulu on June 29 are given military honors as relatives receive the remains at Villamor Air Base in Pasay City yesterday. Maj. Marvin Indammog, Capt. Irwin Managuelod, Sgt. Jaime Velasco and Cpl. Abdal Asula died when Jolo Municipal Police Station personnel fired upon the Army intelligence team tailing suspected terrorist bombers in Jolo.
Krizjohn Rosales
9 cops in Sulu ‘misencounter’ disarmed, relieved
Emmanuel Tupas (The Philippine Star) - July 1, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Nine police officers who were part of a team that reportedly killed four Army soldiers in an alleged misencounter in Jolo, Sulu on Monday were relieved from their posts yesterday.

The policemen were disarmed and placed in the custody of the Sulu police on orders of Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año, former chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Año requested the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to conduct a parallel probe of the incident.

Sacked from their posts were Staff Sgts. Almudzrin Hadjaruddin, Iskandar Susulan and Ernisar Sappal; Patrolmen Alkajal Mandangan, Rajiv Putalan and Moh Nur Parsani; Senior M/Sgt. Abdelzhimar Padjiri, M/Sgt. Hanie Baddiri and Cpl Sulki Andaki.

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Archie Gamboa said he and AFP chief Gen. Felimon Santos Jr. agreed to let the NBI look into the incident to ensure an impartial probe.

“Whatever would be the findings of the NBI, the PNP and AFP will welcome the recommendation,” Gamboa told reporters.

Gamboa maintained that the Sulu incident is an isolated case, which will not affect the relationship of the AFP and PNP.

Maj. Marvin Indamog, commanding officer of the Army’s 9th Intelligence Service Unit; Capt. Irwin Managuelod, Sgt. Eric Velasco and Cpl. Abdal Asula were in Jolo tracking down suspected terrorists when the policemen fired at them.

The police officers’ firearms will be subjected to ballistics examination to determine who among them opened fire at the soldiers.

‘Misencounter’

PNP spokesman Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac said the incident was likely a “misencounter.”

“We consider this a misencounter. Our policemen probably did not identify the soldiers as our colleagues,” Banac said.

Banac said they are not taking the version of the police as the truth, the reason why the NBI was tapped to conduct an impartial investigation.

Police said the soldiers, who were in civilian clothes, were in a sport utility vehicle that sped past a checkpoint in Jolo town. They allegedly pointed their guns at the policemen, triggering a firefight.

Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, commander of Western Mindanao Command, said they welcomed the NBI as a “third party” in the probe to ensure that there would be no whitewash.

“We still have to establish the circumstances of the incident,” Sobejana told The STAR. “We don’t want any escalation of hostilities out of the incident.”

The Jolo municipal police and the Army’s 11th Infantry Division gave conflicting versions of the incident.

Palace to wait for probe

Malacañang will wait for the results of the NBI probe on the alleged misencounter between the police and military in Sulu, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said at a press briefing yesterday.

He said Sulu remains a “hotspot” for skirmishes between government troops and suspected terrorists.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the NBI regional office in Zamboanga City would conduct the probe.

Guevarra gave the NBI 10 days to submit its initial report on the incident.

‘Not a drug sting’

Philippine Army Commanding General Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay said the soldiers were on a mission to identify the location of terrorists in Sulu.

Gapay said no agents from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) were involved in the incident.

“It was not an anti-drug operation,” he said.

He said based on witnesses’ accounts, no altercation transpired between the policemen and the soldiers.

“There was no provocation on the part of Army personnel to warrant such carnage,” Gapay said.

According to the military, the soldiers were tracking down Abu Sayyaf members, bomb makers and suicide bombers in Sulu.

AFP spokesman Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said the remains of three of the slain soldiers arrived at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City yesterday.

Arevalo said the NBI should find out what really happened as the PNP has two different spot reports about the incident.

Sen. Ronald dela Rosa, a former PNP chief, said he supports an impartial probe on the killing of the four Army intelligence officers. John Unson, Roel Pareno, Christina Mendez, Evelyn Macairan, Rey Galupo, Michael Punongbayan, Cecille Suerte Felipe

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