(July 09, 2020) – At least four of nine policemen involved in the killing of four military intelligence officers in the southern part of the Philippines tested positive for gunpowder residue, an investigator confirmed on Thursday.
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) told reporters that four of the suspects were likely to have shot the soldiers dead. The victims likely did not shoot back.
“We subjected the army victims to paraffin testing, 4 negative,” NBI deputy director Ferdinand Lavin told reporters. “Merong paraffin testing sa 9 [policemen], 4 turned positive sa presence ng powder nitrate.”
The shells gathered at the crime scene in the town of Jolo, Sulu also matched the guns surrendered by the policemen. Investigators earlier announced that 5.56mm calibre bullets were used, usually for M-16 rifles.
Lavin added that the trajectory of the shots were downwards.
The national police earlier claimed that the incident was a “misencounter” and the police only acted in self-defense. It eventually retracted the statement.
But Army chief Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay declared the shooting a “murder” and a “rubout”, with at least one soldier sustaining eight gunshot wounds. Two more of the soldiers had three gunshot wounds.
The fourth soldier, a Muslim, had to be buried immediately as per Islamic customs.
The military intelligence personnel were pursuing suspected bombers of the pro-Islamic State group Abu Sayyaf when they were flagged by the policemen and eventually shot dead.
President Rodrigo Duterte hurriedly flew to Zamboanga City four days after the incident to address the soldiers there, appealing for calm. He also vowed the truth would come out, relying on the NBI to probe the incident.
The NBI is still corroborating seven witness accounts with the suspects’ testimonies. It also sent an additional team to Jolo to check the crime scene.
The NBI is expected to finish its investigation in two to three weeks. (Reports from Marlene Alcaide | Katrina Elaine Alba/AGD)
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