(July 02, 2020) – The Philippine National Police has removed the police chief of a town in the southern Philippines after the fatal shooting of four soldiers as an impartial inquiry on the incident is about to be completed, a police spokesman and the defense secretary said on Thursday.
Camp Crame has relieved Jolo town police chief, Lieutenant Colonel Walter Annayo, after the national police retracted an earlier report about the incident, clarifying that there was no actual exchange of gunfire between the soldiers and nine policemen.
National Police spokesman Brigadier General Bernard Banac confirmed the relief of Annayo based on command responsibility while the nine policemen involved in the shooting incident have been disarmed and detained.
“General Ano already has a copy of the preliminary investigation from the National Bureau of Investigation,” said Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, referring to Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año, another retired army general.
“It’s about to the completed. I am withholding any comment until the NBI has concluded its investigation and I have also talked to the troops on the ground. Let us not inflame the emotions of the soldiers.”
He said the president was concerned about the “unfortunate incident” “It should not happen between our two forces,” he added.
Año confirmed on Thursday that President Rodrigo Duterte will be going to Mindanao “very soon” to talk with the commanders of the PNP and the AFP Western Command over the incident.
“If he has time, he will talk with the policemen,” Año said in a virtual Laging Handa briefing,
“Ako mismo I have a interest to ensure that justice will prevail because I know this people and it is my duty also to ensure that justice is served.”
Both the military chief, General Felimon Santos Jr, and PNP chief, General Archie Gamboa had discussed a new mechanism to improve the coordination and cooperation between the two forces to prevent a repeat of the incident.
Also on Thursday, Senator Risa Hontiveros filed a resolution, calling for an investigation in aid of legislation.
“The incident in Jolo further feeds the public’s distrust toward the PNP. Lalo pa at hindi ito first time na mangyari,” Hontiveros said.
“Hindi pwedeng trigger-happy ang ating kapulisan.”
The senator also filed Senate Resolution No. 460, that aims to institutionalize measures against the excessive use of force and violence within the police force.
“Extensive reform has to be done to restore the public’s trust in our institutions,” she urged.
“Dapat maintindihan ng kapulisan na ang mga pagpatay na ito ay nakakadagdag lang ng takot sa mga tao, at mas lalong nakakabawas ng tiwala,” she also said.
Nine law enforcement agents in the southern island of the Philippines shot four soldiers dead in broad daylight last Monday. The troops were in the middle of tracking down suspected bombers from the pro-Islamic State militant group Abu Sayyaf.
There were conflicting reports about the incident drew tension between the national police and the armed forces.
The PNP earlier claimed that the four soldiers, pulled out their guns when they were stopped at a checkpoint. But army chief Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay called the shooting a rubout.
Lorenzana called for caution in holding accountability for the incident.
“Whilst there is the principle of command responsibility, it must be carefully determined how high in the hierarchy should be accountability be. It has to stop somewhere,” the retired military general said on Wednesday.
The national police assured its cooperation in the NBI investigation as the cops involved in the shooting were detained and disarmed.
The incident comes two months after police in Quezon City fatally shot Winston Ragos, a discharged army corporal, over a quarantine violation.
The NBI already filed criminal raps against the cops involved, including a planting of evidence charge. (Katrina Elaine Alba/MM)
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