By Ali G. Macabalang
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has offered military assistance in the arrest of nine police elements not at large after dismissal from service for involvement in the killing of four Army intelligence operatives in June 2020, saying though that the Philippine National Police (PNP) remains having the main responsibility.
“If they (local police) need AFP’s (Armed Forces of the Philippines)’s help, they will get it,” was quoted as saying in a story published by the Philippine News Agency (PNA) last month.
While dismayed with the PNP’s earlier decision to release the nine cops to the custody of their families and lawyers due to the absence of an arrest warrant, Lorenzana noted that the police just gave itself additional work in doing so.
“Yes, but the PNP just gave themselves additional work. They will be the ones to serve the warrants and make the arrest,” he said.
Lorenzana added that the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) had told him that the PNP was forced to release these police officers as they were already dismissed from the service.
Earlier, a panel of prosecutors of the Department of Justice (DOJ) found probable cause to indict the nine police officers for four counts of murder as well as planting of evidence in the June 29, 2020 incident, which had initially spawned irritants between military and police hierarchies and prompted a Senate inquiry.
The nine dismissed cops were named as Senior M/Sgt. Abdelzhimar Padjiri, M/Sgt. Hanie Baddiri, S/Sgt. Iskandar Susulan, S/Sgt. Ernisar Sappal, Cpl. Sulki Andaki, Pat. Moh Nur Pasani, S/Sgt. Almudzrin Hadjaruddin, Pat. Alkajal Mandangan, and Pat. Rajiv Putalan.
The prosecution panel also did not recommend bail for the accused. PNP chief Gen. Debold Sinas earlier approved the dismissal from service of the nine police officers.
According to published reports, the nine cops mistook Army intelligence operative Maj. Marvin A. Indammog, 39; Capt. Irwin B. Managuelod, 33; Sgt. Jaime M. Velasco, 38, and Cpl. Abdal Asula, 33, as illegal drug peddlers.
The four soldiers were conducting intelligence and monitoring operations against two suspected suicide bombers when gunned down by the nine Jolo police officers, reports said.
The killing of the four soldiers had caused the transfer to the Regional Police Office-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (PRO-BAR) headquarters in Maguindanao of P/Lt. Col. Walter Annayo, who was at that time the Jolo town police chief. The transfer happened at the height of the Senate inquiry on the incident.
On Nov. 1, 2020, Lt. Col. Annayo was shot dead while alighting from his car to buy something from a roadside store along Sultan Mastura town in Maguindanao by armed men aboard a sports utility vehicle, according to a report from the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) of the PRO-BAR.
The CIDG-BAR reported recently it had filed murder case against two suspects in the killing of Annayo on Jan. 29, naming them as Rasul Nahang Radja and Nara Kagatan Asula in a case before the provincial prosecutors’ office here. AGM