Sunday 12 July 2020
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rappler - 12 days ago

No exchange of police shot intel soldiers in Jolo incident, says AFP

MANILA, Philippines – Even taking the police spot report into account, it appears there had been no exchange of fire between policemen and the 4 Army intelligence officers who were shot dead in Jolo, Sulu on Monday, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Brigadier General Edgard Arevalo said on Tuesday, June 30. The police report on the incident stated the 4 soldiers “lifted and pointed their firearms” at the cops, who promptly fired at the soldiers in self defense. “Kung yun ang ating titingnan, ay malinaw na walang naganap na barilan. Hindi nagkaroon ng exchange of fire (If we base it on that, then it’s clear there was no gunfight. There had been no exchange of fire),” Arevalo said in a CNN Philippines interview. Photos showing the victims’ bodies splayed near or inside their vehicle indicate they did not fight the police who accosted them, he added. Citing “initial information,” Arevalo said the cops shot even the soldiers inside the parked vehicle, except for their leader, who had stepped out to speak to the cops. Arevalo identifed the slain soldiers as:  Major Marvin Indamog Captain Irwin Managuelod Sergeant Eric Velasco Corporal Abdal Asula Major General Corleto Vinluan Jr, commander of the Army’s 11th Infantry Division, told Rappler that Indamog left his gun in the vehicle when he alighted to talk to the cops. Indamog was the commanding officer of the Army’s 9th Intelligence Service Unit. On the hunt for bombers The 4 Army intel officers were conducting a signals intelligence or SIGINT operation in Jolo on Monday, June 29, to track down “reported suicide bombers” affiliated with the ISIS-linked Abu Sayyaf bomb expert Mundi Sawadjaan, a military report said. As the officers were driving on an SUV through Barangay Bus-Bus at around 2:30 pm, they came upon a checkpoint where police flagged them down. The officers introduced themselves as members of the military but because they were in civilian clothes, the cops doubted them and asked them to report to the local police station. The officers agreed. The officers were in plainclothes because they were doing intelligence work, Vinluan told Rappler. The standard procedure would have been for the police to call the soldiers’ battalion or unit to verify their identity. In convoy with the cops, the officers drove to the police station but went past it by about 50 meters. The cops tailed them. “Apparently for security reasons, they moved a little further away from the police station pero huminto rin sila (but they stopped eventually),” Arevalo said, adding the officers’ SUV stopped in front of the nearby fire bureau station. The marine general denied the police report’s claim that the intel soldiers tried to flee by driving away. Major Indamog then got off the SUV to speak to the police, who apparently had also gotten off their vehicle to talk to the soldiers. At this point, the police report said the soldiers pointed guns at the cops, prompting them to fire in self defense. The military said the soldiers did not even alight from their vehicle except for Indamog, who left his weapon inside it. In any case, all 4 Army intelligence officers were shot dead on the spot. Army chief ‘enraged’ Hindi namin alam ano motivation ng mga pulis kasi pag ganyan.... Itong mga pulis, alam nilang walang armas yung sundalo, pinagbabaril na lang.... Hindi namin maisip na gagawin ng pulis yun e, Vinluan told Rappler. (We don t know what the police s motivation was.... These cops, they knew the soldiers were unarmed but just shot them.... We couldn t imagine cops doing that.) Philippine Army chief Lieutenant General Gilbert Gapay is “enraged” by the incident and demands a full-blown investigation, the Army said in a statement on Tuesday. The soldiers were on a mission to identify the location of known terrorists in the area. Based on eyewitness accounts, no altercation transpired between the two parties nor was there any provocation on the part of Army personnel to warrant such carnage. Furthermore, no agents from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency are involved and this is not an anti-drug operation. The Army grieves and condoles with the families of our fallen men. There will be no let up in our quest for truth and justice, Gapay said. The military and police top brass earlier agreed to let the National Bureau of Investigation probe the incident, to ensure “impartiality” and avoid stoking tensions between the two uniformed services. Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, a former military chief who now supervises the Philippine National Police (PNP), on Monday night ordered the detention and disarming of the cops involved in the incident. Arevalo said the PNP leadership has expressed its condolences over the killing of the 4 military intelligence officers. – with a report from Carmela Fonbuena/

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