ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews / 30 June) – Five policemen who shot four Army soldiers on Monday afternoon in Jolo, Sulu, are now in the custody of Provincial Police Chief Col. Michael Bawayan, Jr., the Joint Task Force Sulu (JTFS) said Monday evening.
This, as JTFS Commander Corleto Vinluan recommended an impartial investigation. Lt. General Cirilito Sobejana, chief of the Western Mindanao command (WestMinCom) asked the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to investigate what happened in Jolo, a call echoed by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenza, a retired Army general.
In a report to the WestMinCom chief and the Philippine Army chief, the JTFS said Major Marvin Indamog, commanding officer of the Intelligence Service Unit (ISU) of the Philippine Army in Jolo, Captain Irwin Managuelod, Sergeant Eric Velasco and Corporal Abdal Asula were conducting intelligence operations in the vicinity of Brgy Mauboh, Patikul, Sulu targeting two Abu Sayyaf suicide bombers under Mundi Sawadjaan.
Indamog and Managuelod were graduates of the Philippine Military Academy.
As photographs of the slain intelligence operatives show, they were in civilian clothes while conducting the operation in coordination with the JTFS and the 11th Infantry Division.
At about 2:15 in the afternoon, Indamog posted a message on the Joint Intelligence Task Group (JITG) chat group that they were pulling out of the target area.
According to the report, an Army intelligence personnel on board a motorcycle trailing the Montero said they were flagged down at a police checkpoint midway to Jolo town proper and that after some discussion, they were allowed to pass and accordingly were supposed to meet at the Jolo police station. They then proceeded to Jolo proper.
The report said the Montero van parked about 50 meters away from the Jolo police station, at Sitio Marina in Barangay Walled City. The police mobile car parked at the back of the Montero. According to the report, the police disembarked and confronted Maj Indamog who reportedly came out of the van unarmed.
As they were talking, the report said, the police immediately shot the officer without provocation and the other police personnel fired at the other military personnel inside the vehicle.
After the incident, the police car immediately fled towards an unknown direction, the report said.
The police has another version of what happened.
In its initial report sent to the Chief of the Police Regional Office in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, the Sulu Provincial Police Office said members of the Jolo Municipal Police Station and the Provincial Drug Enforcement Unit (PDEU) were on patrol in Barangay Busbus, Jolo at around 2:40 p.m. when they spotted a gray Montero SUV with “four armed male persons.”
“They were accosted and directed to proceed at Jolo Municipal Police Station for verification. Upon arrival thereat, the said persons fled with the SUV towards Martirez, Barangay San Raymundo, Jolo, Sulu. When the PNP personnel chased them, the said person disembarked at their vehicle with their firearms,” the report said.
“Subsequently, the said persons lifted and pointed their firearms towards the PNP personnel, however, before they could pull the trigger, the PNP personnel were able to shoot them in defense, thus an exchange of gunfire ensued which resulted to the death of the four suspects.”
Local Governments Secretary Eduardo Ano immediately ordered the immediate relief and detention of the police personnel.
Bawayan said the five policemen are now under the custody of the Provincial Police. (Frencie Carreon / MindaNews)