By Chito Chavez and Aaron Recuenco
Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año has ordered the Philippine National Police (PNP) to disarm and place the policemen involved in the killing of four soldiers under the custody of the Sulu Provincial Police Director.
He said the police officers will be investigated by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) as a parallel investigation by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) was also requested.
Año described the incident as very unfortunate while urging the NBI to “leave no stones unturned’’ in its probe.
“The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) have been working closely in the fight against terrorists. I want to know what really happened and no stone must be left unturned,” Año said in an interview over GMA News.
Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac, spokesman of the Philippine National Police (PNP), said the order to restrict the operatives of the Jolo Municipal Police Station is part of the immediate administrative action that the national police leadership has initiated amid the controversy surrounding the death of the four Army troopers.
It was not immediately clear how many Jolo policemen were involved in the incident.
“The PNP leadership extends its deepest condolences to the family and colleagues of two Philippine Army officers and two enlisted men who died in the unfortunate incident of a misencounter with PNP personnel in Jolo, Sulu,” Banac said.
The local police, in a report submitted to Camp Crame in Quezon City, had earlier stated that they just defended themselves as the four soldiers tried to fire at them during a car chase in Jolo on Monday afternoon.
The local police ordered the four men on board a Sports Utility Vehicle to proceed to the police station although they identified themselves as members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
The police report stated that as they arrived at the police station, the vehicle sped off which triggered a car chase and eventually a shootout.
Military commanders in Western Mindanao were reportedly furious upon learning of the incident and demanded an impartial investigation, saying they also received reports contradicting the statement of the local police.
The military commanders confirmed that the slain four men were soldiers who were on an official mission.
“The PNP and AFP officials in Sulu have agreed that the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Regional Office in Zamboanga City will conduct and lead the investigation to ensure impartiality and to eliminate any suspicion of undue influence,” said Banac.
Banac said the Regional Director of the Police Regional Office-Bangsamoro Administrative Region, Brig. Gen. Manuel Abu, has been instructed to extend full administrative and operational support to the NBI.