COTABATO CITY ( MindaNews / 29 June) — The chief of the Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) wants the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to conduct an investigation on the killing Monday afternoon of four Army intelligence operatives by the police in Barangay Busbus, Jolo, Sulu.
“It seems like an overkill,” Lt. General Cirilito Sobejana, WestMinCom chief said in a telephone interview Monday evening, adding no weapons were seen from the side of the soldiers. “We want an impartial investigation conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation,” he said.
Photos circulating on social media showed three of the four slain persons slumped on the road but no firearms could be seen. The fourth victim was inside the vehicle, but only his arm could be seen dangling from the passenger door.
Killed were 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.
The police report to the chief of the Regional Police Office of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao said the Army intelligence operatives disembarked from their vehicle “with their firearms.”
“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,” the police report said.
Several bullets were found by the Scene of the Crime Operatives.
A press release from the WestMinCom said four members of the ISU were in downtown Jolo on board a gray Montero SUV conducting Signals Intelligence (SIGINT), an intelligence-gathering by interception of signals.
The press release quoted Sobejana as saying, “we don’t want any escalation of hostilities … Our interest is to know the facts and give justice.”
The four intelligence operatives were reportedly tracking the location of reported suicide bombers under the group of Mundi Sawajaan in coordination with Joint-Task Force Sulu and 11th Infantry Division.
“It could be a lapse of judgement call from the part of the PNP personnel when they immediately opened fire. Admittedly, there is a high level of paranoia among those assigned government forces in Jolo”, Sobejana said.
June 28 , he noted, was the first anniversary of the first suicide attack by one Arman Lasuca, who, together with another accomplice ripped-off a bomb attached to his body while in a checkpoint in Indanan, Sulu on June 28 last year. The explosion killed eight persons including three soldiers and the bombers.
Two weeks earlier, armed men from the same group attacked a police checkpoint in Parang, Sulu, killing two policemen and wounding two others. (Ferdinandh B. Cabrera / MindaNews)