New PNP-AFP body to enhance operations, identify lapses
The board will help determine lapses and improvements in operational procedures, PNP chief Gen. Archie Gamboa said yesterday.
Boy Santos, file
New PNP-AFP body to enhance operations, identify lapses
Neil Jayson Servallos (The Philippine Star) - July 7, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — A joint board of inquiry of the police and military will  be created to enhance the operational procedures of government troops after policemen shot dead four Army soldiers in Jolo, Sulu last week, according to Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Archie Gamboa.

The board will help determine lapses and improvements in operational procedures, Gamboa said yesterday.

“Of course we do not want to preempt the results of the investigation of the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation), so this is for organizational purposes, to determine the commander’s intent. I and the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) have agreed to come up with this board of inquiry,” Gamboa said.

The four victims, all miitary intelligence agents led by Maj. Marvin Indammog, commanding officer of the Army’s 9th Intelligence Service Unit; Capt. Irwin Managuelod, Sgt. Eric Velasco and Cpl. Abdal Asula; were on board a Mitsubishi Montero when they were stopped at a checkpoint by policemen in Jolo.

According to the Western Mindanao Command (Westmingcom), the four were part of an intelligence unit gathering information on suicide bombers linked to the Abu Sayyaf group in the vicinity of Barangay Mauboh, Patikul.

The victims identified themselves as soldiers at the police checkpoint and the policemen reportedly told the soldiers to proceed to the Jolo police station for verification.

The nine policemen claimed that the shooting commenced when the soldiers pointed their weapons at the apprehending officers, several meters away from the Jolo police station.

The PNP had sacked from their posts 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.

PNP officials also dismissed Jolo police chief Lt. Col. Walter Annayo, who was replaced by Lt. Col. Filmore Calib, former chief of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Regional Mobile Force Battalion.
Sulu police provincial director Col. Michael Bawayan, meanwhile, will remain at his post until further notice.
Both the leadership of the PNP and the Army vowed that the Sulu incident will not affect the camaraderie between the two government forces.

The initial report submitted by the Sulu Provincial Police Office (SPPO) stated the soldiers never fired their firearms at the policemen.

The AFP decried the incident as murder while the PNP has insisted it was a shooting incident.

Gamboa said while he did not want to preempt the NBI probe, he saw there was a problem in coordination.

“Probably coordination, that’s why my thrust now is the board of inquiry to study coordination from strategic down to tactical factors so we could revisit what could be done to prevent these things,” the PNP chief said.

Gamboa was to meet yesterday AFP Inspector General Maj. Gen. Franco Nemecio Gaca to discuss the matter.

Maximum tolerance

The National Police Commission (Napolcom), which is also probing the incident, said the policemen should have exercised maximum tolerance during the incident.

“Maximum tolerance should have been exercised in any situation, especially in a case where doubt has already been established. The other side, the group of the members of the Philippine Army have already identified themselves. On that assumption, care should have been exercised already, especially that it was very near the police station,” Napolcom vice chairman Rogelio Casurao said in an interview aired over ANC.

Casurao said Napolcom has gathered evidence that they would use to check allegations of cover-up and determine administrative liabilities of the lawmen.

Among the evidence were a closed circuit television footage circulating in social media that showed no firearms near the bodies of the soldiers, which contradicts the policemen’s claim that the soldiers pointed guns at them.

“There’s indicators there, according to the video, as against the allegations that there was a misencounter. If you look at the video, there were no firearms around the vehicle… used by victims,” Casurao said, adding that they would need other pieces of evidence to support the videos.

Casurao also said the cops did not have to leave the scene in haste after the shooting, citing operational procedures that require them to secure evidence until technical and forensics arrive.

“I would say that would have been the better procedure and this would have been avoided. But it seems things happen so fast, that there’s no chance to even say stop shooting, we’re not enemies, we’re brothers in arms. It’s really hard to establish whether care was really established or not,” he said.

The Napolcom will complete its investigation in two weeks, Casurao said, a period in which they would be speaking to both sides of the party and gather more evidence.

Meanwhile, one of the nine policemen involved in the killing of four soldiers in Jolo, Sulu has tested positive for COVID-19 in a rapid antibody test, that delayed the transfer of the suspects to Camp Crame in Quezon City apparently to ease tensions between the military and police in the region.

“I was supposed to bring the nine respondents to Manila but a problem arose when one of them tested positive,” Gamboa said yesterday.

While the nine policemen are waiting for confirmatory tests for the virus, Gamboa said he has ordered the police office in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region to bring them to national headquarters this week once results are out. The officer who tested positive in the rapid test is expected to undergo a swab test this week.

Gamboa said the Air Force decided to defer transporting the policemen to Metro Manila as scheduled after one of the lawmen tested positive had already made direct contact with the rest of the group.

“The possibility of the eight being infected is still a possibility,” said Gamboa. “If he tests negative for COVID-19, they would all be brought to Manila together.”

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