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9 cops in Sulu shooting must be relieved amid ongoing probe – AFP chief

/ 05:53 PM September 02, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The nine policemen involved in the fatal shooting of four military intelligence officers in Jolo, Sulu, last June should be relieved from work while authorities investigate the incident, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff Gen. Gilbert Gapay said Wednesday.

Gapay told a Commission on Appointments (CA) panel during his confirmation hearing that the relief of the nine policemen would make way for an impartial investigation.

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READ: AFP chief Gapay, 29 other senior officers get CA nod

“I think it is in the best interest of everyone for the impartial investigation to proceed [that] those involved should be relieved so that they will not influence, in whatever capacity, the investigation process,” he said.

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Last August 19, then-Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Archie Gamboa told a Senate hearing that he had no power to suspend the nine officers unless they would be found guilty of the charges against them.

Gamboa also said he could only place the nine policemen under restrictive custody.

“That is the most that we can do under our regulation, we cannot even detain them. We cannot even preventively suspend them unless there’s due process,” Gamboa had said.

But Gapay said he was “surprised” that the nine police officers have yet to be suspended despite what had happened.

“We were surprised that those involved in the incident were just put on restrictive custody and they were not relieved of their positions despite the investigation already ongoing,” the AFP chief further told the CA panel.

In the AFP, Gapay said, military officers will be immediately removed from their posts once they violate the regulations of the organization.

“In the Armed Forces, once you violate the regulations you get relieved of your post right away and be put in custody if warranted,” he said.

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The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has already recommended the filing of murder charges against the nine police officers for the death of Major Marvin Indammog, Captain Irwin Managuelod, Sergeant Jaime Velasco Jr., and Corporal Abdal Asula.

An investigation by the NBI showed that the police officers simultaneously attacked the Army Intelligence officers without “the opportunity to defend themselves.”

Contrary to the claims of the police that one of the victims has a gun, the NBI said witnesses told investigators that Indammog did not carry a firearm when he alighted from their vehicle.

“We were updated by the NBI that the report and recommendations were already submitted to DOJ (Department of Justice),” Gapay said.

“I believe it is still with the prosecutor’s office and we’re just awaiting the result of the preliminary investigation…for the subsequent filing of charges,” he added.

The military has its own theories on the motive behind the shooting of the four AFP officers, according to Gapay.

“We have so many theories but we were holding them back because the investigation is now in full swing, ‘yung NBI and the DOJ,” he said.

“We would not like to affect itong kanilang investigation kaya ‘yung theories of real motives, we’re holding them back on our own,” he added.

AFP Western Mindanao Command chief Maj. Gen. Corleto Vinluan Jr. previously raised the possibility that family ties are likely the motive behind the killing of the Army officers.

KGA

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TAGS: AFP Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay, Commission on Appointments, Nation, News, Sulu shooting
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