AFP, PNP leaders to review coordination protocols

Published July 1, 2020, 3:22 PM

by Martin Sadongdong

General Felimon Santos Jr., Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and General Archie Francisco Gamboa, Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief, have agreed to revisit their security “technique, tactics, and procedures” (TTPs) to prevent from happening again the fatal shooting of four soldiers in Jolo, Sulu last Monday.

Philippine Armed Forces Spokesperson Brig.Gen. Edgard Arevalo

In a statement on Wednesday, Major General Edgard Arevalo, AFP spokesperson, said such would be done to determine if the TTPs between the two security agencies “are current and are followed religiously.”

Issues on cooordination arose when nine members of the Jolo municipal police station intercepted in a checkpoint four armed and plain clothes-wearing Philippine Army intelligence operatives onboard a sports utility vehicle (SUV) who were tracking suspected Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) suicide bombers in Barangay Walled City on June 29.

The incident left four soldiers dead, namely Major Marvin Indammog, 39, commanding officer of the Army’s 9th Intelligence Service Unit; Captain Irwin Managuelod, 33, field station commander; intelligence operatives Sergeant Jaime Velasco, 38, and Corporal Abdal Asula, 33.

Accordingly, there was no sufficient coordination on the part of the soldiers in terms of identifying themselves, hence, the cops became highly suspicious.

However, Colonel Ramon Zagala, Army spokesperson, refuted this claim as he said the soldiers have already informed the police that they were members of the military at the checkpoint.

“If they (cops) had doubts, they should have held them there and requested for colleagues that they know to proceed to the checkpoint, and then they will be verified at the checkpoint. But this did not happen,” Zagala said in a television interview over ANC.

Whether what Zagala said was the protocol under the military and police’s TTPs remains to be clarified as the parameters were operational matters that cannot be publicly announced.

A police report from the Jolo police said the cops instructed the soldiers to proceed to the police station.

It said the soldiers attempted to flee which led to a brief car chase and a confrontation.

The report added that the soldiers pointed their guns towards the cops, prompting the latter to fire shots.

These claims were all denied by Zagala, citing accounts of two eye-witnesses and a motorcycle-riding soldier who was part of the operation and tailing the SUV of the soldiers.

He said Indammog, with his hands raised as a sign of surrender, alighted from the vehicle to explain their mission but was shot.

This prompted Velasco and Asula to check what was happening. They, too, were shot by the cops, Zagala said.

Managuelod, who was working on his laptop to track the bombers, was also shot, he added.

The investigation of the incident is already being handled by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), a third party, to ensure its impartiality and objectiveness.

Meanwhile, in wake of the incident, Arevalo said all concerned members of the staff and subordinate commanders were instructed to ensure that the families of Indammog, Managuelod, Velasco, and Asula will be given the assistance, benefits and entitlements due them.

Arevalo also said the military “is mindful not to allow the enemies of the state to take advantage of the incident to create a divide between the AFP and PNP.”

“With the NBI on board, the investigation proceeds swifly but deliberate and thorough with the express cooperation of the PNP and AFP,” Arevalo stated.