Army chief: Killing of 4 Army intel officers in Jolo is murder, top Sulu cops should be axed
MANILA, Philippines—Army chief Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay on Tuesday (June 30) called for the sacking of Sulu provincial police commanders for the killing of four Army intelligence officers by policemen in the province’s capital, Jolo.
At a press briefing after arrival honors for three of the four Army personnel at Villamor Air Base, Gapay said heads must roll over the killing of the four intelligence operatives.
“We are invoking command responsibility here from the municipal police station commander to the provincial commander of the PNP in Sulu as a bare minimum,” Gapay told reporters.
“Commanders should always be on top of the situation. They are responsible for what their men do,” he said.
The four intelligence officers were tracking two suspected suicide bombers from the Abu Sayyaf Group when their vehicle was flagged down by police on Monday (June 29) afternoon.
The Army officers had identified themselves to the policemen but still ended up being shot by the policemen when one of the officers alighted, unarmed, from the SUV they were riding in.
The police have a different version of what happened. The Sulu police force claimed that its men stopped the vehicle carrying the intelligence officers and instructed them to go to a nearby police station for verification of identities.
According to the PNP narrative, as the police team and the Army officers neared the police station, the officers’ SUV sped off, which triggered a car chase. Police said they only defended themselves as the soldiers opened fire.
Gapay called the case as one of “murder” and described the police account as “fabricated.”
“We find the report fabricated, full of inconsistencies. Parang sine and very misleading (It’s like a movie and very misleading),” he said.
“There was never a firefight. Walang gunfight and our men never fired a single shot (There’s no gunfight and our men never fired a single shot). There were witnesses, there were CCTVs and we have personnel tailing,” he added.
The policemen also fled the scene after the shooting, which Gapay said puzzled him.
“After na mapatay nila lahat they fled. SOP ba ‘yun? Diba pag namatay you have to cordon the area and wait for the SOCO? Wala, nagtagbuhan lahat (After they killed everyone they fled. Is that SOP? Isn’t it that when someone is killed you have to cordon off the area and wait for the SOCO? No, they all fled) ,” he said.
The Army is still reeling from the death of retired soldier Cpl. Winston Ragos, who was suffering from war shock and was fatally shot by a policeman at a COVID-19 checkpoint in Quezon City.
“Hindi pa tayo tapos kay Ragos. April yung Ragos, July na tayo wala pa ring nangyari. So ito na naman tayo? (We’re not done yet with Ragos. Ragos’ case was in April. It’s already July and still nothing’s happening. So here we are again?)” Gapay said.
The National Bureau of Investigation is looking into the Ragos case and is also expected to look into the killing of the four soldiers in Jolo.
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