Army: Soldiers, not cops, in CCTV footage in aftermath of Sulu incident
MANILA, Philippines — The crowd gathering at the site of the so-called Sulu shooting, as shown in a circulating CCTV footage, was composed of responding soldiers, and not policemen.
Philippine Army spokesperson Col. Ramon Zagala said Thursday that soldiers immediately responded to the scene, minutes after four of their intelligence operatives were gunned down Monday afternoon. At the time, they did not know that the intel officers were killed by cops.
The responding team was supposedly part of the “takedown team” of two suspected Abu Sayyaf suicide bombers that the intel operatives were trailing. Instead, they became part of the rescue and recovery team for their comrades, he said in an interview with CNN Philippines.
Police and SOCO only arrived at the scene shortly after, Zagala said.
Based on the footage, the responding team was checking the bodies of the slain soldiers. One even took something out of the SUV as he checked the driver’s seat.
The soldiers were checking if any of the troops were still alive, Zagala said. The one who opened the door of the vehicle’s front seat was the brother of the slain driver, Cpl. Abdal Asula.
“He knew his brother was the driver so he secured his belongings. It was a natural instinct… We can’t blame him, he just wanted to attend to his brother,” Zagala said.
His brother also made him a makeshift pillow out of a folded shirt, he said.
Zagala acknowledged that there may be lapses on how the soldiers responded.
“We admit that we have committed some lapses and the CGPA (commanding general of the Philippine Army) has ordered (his men) to look into this,” he said.
The soldiers who responded also secured the sensitive equipment of the intel operators.
Former Armed Forces chief Ricardo Visaya on Wednesday posted the CCTV footage of the aftermath of the shooting on his Facebook account, condemning how the situation was handled by supposed policemen.
“Many violations were committed at the crime scene,” he wrote.
“How could you serve and protect the people if you have policemen like them? Discipline eroded!!!” he said.
The intel agents, who were in plainclothes, were on a mission to go after two suspected suicide bombers from the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group when they were flagged down by cops in Brgy. Bus-Bus in Jolo.
Based on the account of the military, the Army soldiers 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.
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