Soldiers who rushed to Jolo shooting site may be charged with obstruction of justice — PBGen. Abu

Marje Pelayo   •   July 2, 2020   •   3275

CCTV footage of the soldiers who responded to the site where four military personnel were shot by police

MANILA, Philippines — A Facebook post of former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Gen. Ricardo Visaya sparked anger among netizens against alleged members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in the video. 

The former military chief himself criticized what he called as mishandling of the crime scene by alleged cops in the video. 

The post was shared around 10,000 times and has drawn nearly 2,000 comments against the PNP.

READ: Misencounter between soldiers and police in Jolo kills 4

But according to the Police Regional Office in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (PRO-BAR) Director PBGen. Manuel Abu, the men in the video were actually Army personnel in civilian clothes who first responded to the shooting site.

He said, even the person who entered the vehicle and moved the bodies of the victims was a soldier. 

Iyon ang masaklap kasi nagresponde ang mga sundalo, kinuha nila ang mga laman, kaya pati mga baril pinagkukuha nila,” Abu explained. 

(That’s the problem because the soldiers responded to the scene, moved the bodies, and took the victims’ firearms.)

Hindi na hinintay iyong SOCO. Ibig sabihin baka wala silang alam o baka may itinatago,” he added.

(They did not wait for the SOCO [Scene of the Crime Operatives]. Either they were ignorant of the procedures or they were hiding something.)

The Philippine Army admitted that the men in the video were indeed soldiers and according to Army Spokesperson Col. Ramon Zagala, the one who moved a body and placed a pillow behind its head was actually the brother of the victim, Cpl. Abdal Asula.

They checked ang pulse kung may buhay and then secured the vehicle. So from take down team to rescue to recovery at makikita mo rin sa video na parang bumubukas ang pinto. Iyong bumubukas na pinto iyon ay brother ng isa naming operative,” Zagala explained.

(They checked the pulse if there was sign of life and then they secured the vehicle. So from take down to rescue to recovery, you will see in the video that someone was opening the door. That person is the brother of one of our operatives.)

Kasi alam niya na ang brother niya ay iyong driver. So out of his instinct, sinu-sure niya ang gamit ng brother niya,” he added.

(Because he knew that his brother was the driver. So out of instinct, he was securing his brother’s belongings.)

READ: PNP admits no misencounter in Jolo incident

But Abu said the PNP might file cases against the soldiers for intruding into the shooting site.

Baka pakasuhan ko pa nga sila ng obstruction of justice kasi pagka-ganyan na may namatay na hindi dapat guluhin ang encounter site. Ginulo nila,” the official said.

(I might even file charges against them for obstruction of justice considering that there were fatalities. The encounter site shouldn’t be touched. They messed it up.)

Based on the PNP’s version, the nine police suspects were still in the area when the responding soldiers arrived.

However, they chose to keep distance in fear of another gunfight. 

Nine lang ang mga pulis na involved. They were in uniform. Nang dumating iyang mga nagresponde na Army na mga nakasibilyan, natakot ang mga pulis. Pumwesto sa gilid gilid kasi galit na galit ang mga Army. Baka magkabarilan ulit,” Abu noted.

(Only nine policemen were involved. They were in uniform. When the responding Army team in civilian clothes arrived, the policemen became anxious. They positioned themselves at the sides as the soldiers were very furious. They feared starting another gunfight.)

But AFP Western Mindanao Command Spokesperson Major Arvin Encinas has a different version of what happened, saying the police suspects fled the scene before the responding soldiers arrived. 

“Right after nila binaril yung tropa, tumakas naman yung mga pulis na yun, umalis supposedly kung talagang hinabol nila eh di kinordon nila yung area,” Encinas said.

(Right after they gunned down our troops, they fled. Supposedly, if the police were indeed chasing the soldiers, they should have cordoned the area.)

Pero right after na binaril nila, tumakas sila sa scene. Umalis,” he added.

(But right after they shot the soldiers, they fled from the scene. They escaped.)

READ: Jolo police chief sacked over fatal shooting of soldiers

The investigation on the incident is ongoing but Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Interior Secretary Eduardo Año already has a copy of the initial result of the investigation being conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). MNP (with details from Lea Ylagan) 

PNP confirms manhunt ops for dismissed cops involved in Jolo shooting

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 25, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine National Police (PNP) has confirmed that manhunt operations are underway against the nine dismissed cops involved in the shooting of four military men in Jolo, Sulu.

PNP chief PGen. Debold Sinas also confirmed that the nine cops are now in Jolo, Sulu based on the latest report of the tracker team of the Police Regional Office Bangsamoro Autonomous Region-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group.

Hinihintay namin ang [resulta ng] manhunt at nasa Jolo na according to last report nandoon sila sa Jolo. Lahat nakauwi na (We are waiting for the result of the manhunt and they are in Jolo, according to the last report. They have returned to Jolo),” he said.

Sinas also added negotiations are still underway for the involved cops who wish to surrender.

Sabi ko as long as they surrender wala akong problema, but the manhunt still ongoing (I said as long as they surrender, I have no problem, but the manhunt is still ongoing),” he said.

Last January 14, a warrant of arrest against the nine former cops were released by the Sulu Regional Trial Court.

They are being charged for shooting four military men who were investigating two suspected suicide bombers last June 29, 2020. -AAC (with reports from Lea Ylagan)

DOJ issues hold departure order vs nine cops in Jolo shooting

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 12, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Justice (DOJ) has issued a hold departure order against the nine policemen involved in the shooting of four army personnel in Jolo, Sulu.

In a statement, DOJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra has ordered prosecutors to file a motion in the court for a hold departure order against the policemen accused of killing the four army personnel in Jolo, Sulu last June 2020.

The order was issued after the Philippine National Police (PNP) released the said cops after being dismissed from service.

“The DOJ prosecutors filed the criminal information against the 9 police officers last January 4. The court was supposed to issue the warrants of arrest thereafter, but apparently failed to do so because of the current lockdown in Sulu,” he said.

Guevarra, meanwhile, hopes the accused would voluntarily turn themselves in once the warrants are issued.

“We hope that the 9 accused will voluntarily turn themselves in when such warrants are eventually released by the court. Otherwise, law enforcement agents will look for them and take them into custody,” Guevarra said. -AAC (with reports from Dante Amento)

AFP dismayed over the release of nine cops involved in Jolo shooting

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 12, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Armed Forces of the Philippines has expressed dismay after the Philippine National Police released the nine cops involved in the shooting of four army men in Jolo, Sulu.

In a statement, AFP Spokesperson Major General Edgard Arevalo said that AFP Chief General Gilbert Gapay lamented the decision to release the involved cops and the lack of arrest warrants despite the charges filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ).

“It is only unfortunate that despite the DOJ’s filing online of a multiple murder case before the Regional Trial Court in Jolo last 04 January 2021, no Warrants of Arrest have been issued by the court,” he said.

The nine cops are facing multiple murder charges in the Regional Trial Court in Jolo after the DOJ found probable cause for an indictment.

On Monday (January 11), PNP Chief Police General Debold Sinas announced that they have turned over the nine cops to the lawyers and their relatives since the national police no longer have the authority to detain them. Sinas also announced that the nine cops had been dismissed from police service.

Na-release na kasi walang warrant of arrest na binigay samin. We have coordinated with the DOJ at saka sa lahat hanggang ngayon wala po. So, ayaw po namin na ma charge kami ng arbitrary detention at tsaka pinirmahan ko pong dismissal ay implementable na po iyon. We turn them over to their relatives and lawyers (They have been released because there is no warrant of arrest. We have coordinated with the DOJ and until now, now warrant was issued. So we don’t want to be charged with arbitrary detention and I already signed the dismissal, it is already implementable. We turn them over to their relatives and lawyers), Sinas said. AAC (with reports from Lea Ylagan)

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