By ALI G. MACABALANG
FOUR soldiers in civilian clothes were slain last Monday, June 29 in what initially appeared to be a police operation in Jolo, Sulu.
Reports reaching the Philippine Muslim Today said the fatalities were elements of the military’s 9th Intelligence Service Unit of the 11 Infantry Division based in Sulu.
The fatalities were identified as Major Marvin Indammog, commanding officer of the Intelligence Service Unit-9, Captain Irwin Managuelod, Sgt. Eric Velasco, and Corporal Abdal Asula.
Indammog, a full-blooded Igorot warrior from Tanudan, Kalinga, is a member of Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class 2006, and a battle-tested Scout Ranger.
He spent his younger days in the military as a Scout Ranger fighting the Abu Sayyaf Group in Sulu and other rebels in Mindanao.
Maj. Indammog is also a recipient of several combat awards. He was then transferred to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Intelligence Service in 2014.
The AFP is all set to give military honors to the Army fatalities and they will be buried at the AFP Libingan ng mga Bayani except Asula the lone Muslim fatality in the group who was laid to rest immediately in accordance with the Islamic rites.
Immediately after the incident, Secretary Eduardo Ano of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) instructed Chief PNP General Archie Gamboa to subject the PNP personnel involved in the shooting to be disarmed and to be placed under the custody of the Sulu Police Provincial Director.
Sacked from their posts were Staff Sgts. Almudzrin Hadjaruddin, Iskandar Susulan and Ernisar Sappal; Patrolmen Alkajal Mandangan, Rajiv Putalan and Moh Nur Parsani; Senior M/Sgt. Abdelzhimar Padjiri, M/Sgt. Hanie Baddiri and Cpl Sulki Andaki.
In a statement titled “soldiers shot (dead) by police in Sulu,” Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, chief of the AFP’s Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) based at Camp Navarro, Calarian, Zamboanga City urged the public, notably the media, not to sensationalize the issue surrounding the fateful incident.
“We are yet to establish the motive of the police,” said Sobejana, who asked the National Bureau of Investigation to conduct in-depth probe of the incident to “ensure impartiality.”
“We don’t want any escalation of hostilities out of the incident. Our interest is to know the facts and give justice,” he said.
Sobejana, who earned his Medal of Valor Award, the highest service medal and considered by the AFP as a living hero, earned the award during his younger days during his tour of duty in Sulu, said the military “will wait for the investigation to be completed” and appealed to the public “not to sensationalize the incident through the social media or any other means.”
The field office in Sulu of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) led by Regional Director Kenny Tan was the first to report out the incident.
NCMF spokesman Jun Alonto-Datu Ramos, citing Tan’s report, said Jolo police elements including drug enforcement unit operatives sighted first the Montero sports utility vehicle carrying the four soldiers while conducting patrol, and ordered the subject persons to join them to the Jolo police station “for verification.”
pon arrival at the PNP station, the Army troopers allegedly drove towards Martirez, Barangay San Raymundo, a suburb in Jolo town, prompting the police elements to give a chase, the NCMF report said.
The pursuing police elements caught up with the fleeing soldiers and engaged them in an alleged exchange of fire leading to the killing of all four soldiers, the report said.
The shooting scene happened around 2:26 p.m. Monday in front of the Jolo Central Fire Station at barangay Walled City, according to the WestMinCom statement.
The NCMF report said the four ISU soldiers were on surveillance mission against suspected suicide bombers under the group of Mundi Sawadjaan in coordination with Joint Task Force Sulu when spotted by patrolling police elements.
Philippine Army Commanding General Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay confirmed that the soldiers were on a mission to identify the location of terrorists in Sulu.
With additional reports from the Metro Manila News Bureau