6 alleged Abu Sayyaf bandits killed in Sulu encounter – AFP

Robie de Guzman   •   November 25, 2019   •   934

MANILA, Philippines – Six alleged members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) were killed in two separate clashes with the military in Sulu over the weekend, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) said.

On Saturday, Nov. 23 at 2:40 p.m., government troops first encountered ASG members in Sitio Itum in Barangay Kabbuntakas in Patikul, Sulu.

One ASG fighter identified as “Jailade” was killed while four others were wounded in the firefight which lasted for 45 minutes.

Five soldiers from the 32nd Infantry Battalion, who were slightly wounded in the gunfight were brought to the Camp Bautista Station Hospital in Jolo for medical treatment.

The second encounter between the ASG and military occurred on Sunday, Nov. 24 at 3:30 p.m. in Sitio Huton Mahablo, Barangay Silangkan in Indanan, Sulu.

The 30-minute battle resulted in the death of five bandits, including Sibih Pisih, an alleged sub-group leader of the ASG under its top leader Radullan Sahiron.

“Sibih Pisih is one of the original subgroup leaders of the ASG before the group was split into Sahiron and Sawadjaan Group,” the AFP Westmincom said in a statement.

Sibih Pisih was said to be behind the kidnapping incidents in the boundaries of Tawi-tawi and Sabah, and has a pending warrant of arrest for the killing of 22 civilians in Talipao, Sulu in 2014.

Soldiers recovered from the bandits an M653 Rifle, a Barret Sniper Rifle, and a Cal.45 Pistol.

Two Special Forces members were slightly wounded during the armed encounter and are now being treated at the military hospital in Jolo, Sulu.

The AFP said it is now working on identifying three of the slain ASG bandits.

Duterte to meet with AFP, PNP commanders following Jolo incident

Robie de Guzman   •   July 2, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is set to fly to Mindanao to meet with top officials of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in the wake of the killing of four soldiers by policemen in Jolo, Sulu last Monday, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said Thursday.

Año, however, did not disclose the date and place of the president’s upcoming meeting with police and military commanders.

The Interior Secretary, who supervises the PNP, also said that Duterte may possibly talk to nine policemen involved in the shooting of soldiers.

“The president is going to the south to talk to our PNP and AFP commanders, sabi ko nga kung may time pa siya ay kakausapin niya yung mga suspek,” Año said.

Malacañang said the president was saddened by the incident between the police and military officers.

He has also ordered for the National Bureau of Investigation to expedite the release of its probe findings.

The Palace also denied that the incident is the result of the alleged state-sponsored extrajudicial killings under the Duterte administration as claimed by former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV.

“Hindi po natin kinukunsinte ang patayan kaya nga po masinsinang imbestigasyon ang ginagawa natin dito sa pagpatay sa 4 na sundalo sa hukbong sandatahan,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said.

Año echoed Roque’s statement as he assured that those responsible for the Jolo incident will be held accountable.

“Extrajudicial killing is not the policy of this government and the Sulu incident, we will exact justice and make sure those responsible shall be accountable, umasa kayo diyan. Ako mismo ang personal na nag-follow up ng kaso,” he said. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

PNP admits ‘no misencounter’ in Jolo incident

Marje Pelayo   •   July 1, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine Army Commanding General Gilbert Gapay cries murder over the death of four military personnel in conflict with members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Jolo, Sulu on Monday (June 29).

“It was murder. There was no misencounter dahil hindi naman pumutok iyong tropa namin. Andon ang mga baril nila sa baba. [There was no misencounter because our troops did not pull a trigger. Their firearms were down.] It was a rubout!” he stressed. 

The PNP, for its part, did not deny that the incident was not a misencounter but instead, was a shooting incident.

Nais din natin bigyang linaw ang naunang pahayag na umano ay merong misencounter. Ayon sa ating pagaanalisa ng report na unang nailabas at officially released spot report ay nakita natin na wala namang paggamit or pagpapaputok ng baril mula sa mga namatay na sundalo,” noted PNP Spokesperson PBGen. Bernard Banac.

[We want to clarify earlier reports of an alleged misencounter. After analyzing the officially released as a spot report, we concluded that the fallen soldiers did not exchange gunshots.]

“Ang nakalagay lamang doon ay umamba kaya yaon ang naging response ng ating Jolo Municipal Personnel. Batay sa pag-aaral na iyan makikita natin na hindi na ito misencounter ito ay isang shooting Incident,” he added.

[What was written there was that the soldiers positioned to shoot thus the response of out Jolo Municipal Police personnel. Based on our analysis, it was no longer a misencounter but a shooting incident.]

The PNP Spokesperson, however, refused to comment further on Gapay’s claim of a rubout.

Iginagalang natin ang mga pahayag ng ating mga pinuno at mga kasama sa Philippine Army at sa Armed Forces of the Philippines subalit ipinauubaya na natin ito sa NBI na syang maglalabas kung ano talaga ang tunay na nangyari,” Banac said. 

[We respect the statements of our officers and comrades in the Philippine Army and the Armed Forces of the Philippines but we leave it to the NBI to release the report as to what really happened.]

“Kung ano ang mga naging sequence of events at kung ano ang magiging conclusion at kung ano man ito ay handa itong suportahan ng Philippine National Police,” he assured.

[The Philippine National Police is ready to support whatever the sequence of events and conclusions may arise from it.]

The PNP expressed its sincere apology to its comrades in the military for the death of the four soldiers while it assured that those responsible in the incident will be penalized accordingly. 

Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said he does not want to speculate as to what really transpired in the encounter as he is not buying the claims of rubout and murder against the military personnel.

He said the AFP and the PNP have conflicting statements regarding the events that transpired in the scene thus he prefered to wait for the result of the NBI’s investigation on the incident. 

“It’s not good to speculate. The accounts from both sides are conflicting. Let’s wait for the NBI investigation,” Lorenzana said. 

Nonetheless, he said he fully understood Gen Gapay’s burst of emotions because the victims were among his men in the AFP.

“He is just repeating the reports he got from our people on the ground. Of course, the event happened just the other day and emotions are high among the Army troops. The army leadership in Sulu are trying hard to calm their people while inquiry is going on,” Lorenzana said. MNP (with reports from Lea Ylagan)

AFP to assess tactics, procedures after Jolo incident

Robie de Guzman   •   July 1, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Wednesday said it will review its existing protocols to see if these are in need of improvements following the unfortunate incident involving a group of policemen and soldiers in Jolo, Sulu.

In a statement, AFP spokesperson Major General Edgard Arevalo said the AFP chief of staff General Felimon Santos Jr. and Philippine National Police chief Police General Archie Gamboa have agreed to revisit each Technique, Tactics, and Procedure (TTPs) to “determine if these are current and are followed religiously to prevent the incident from happening again.”

On Monday, June 29, four soldiers were killed after they were accosted by local police officers.

The Philippine Army earlier said the four men, who were wearing civilian clothes, were on an official mission when they were spotted by police officers on patrol.

When questioned by cops, the four men allegedly introduced themselves as members of the AFP. They were then asked to proceed to the Jolo Municipal Police Station for verification.

However, initial police report said the soldiers attempted to escape prompting police to give chase. When the men got off their vehicle, they allegedly pointed their firearms at the police, which prompted the cops to fire at them, resulting in their death.

But Philippine Army Commanding General Lieutenant General Gilbert Gapay criticized the spot report of the police, calling it “fabricated,” and “full of inconsistencies.” He also tagged the incident as a “rubout” and “murder” after noting that the soldiers did not try to escape and never fired a single shot towards police officers.

According to Arevalo, Gapay’s comments on the incident were based from “a learned evaluation of information” that were presented to him.

“His point of view is supported by spot reports and eye-witness accounts of two civilians and of a motorcycle-riding soldier who was part of the operation trailing the SUV boarded by the four intelligence personnel,” he said.

While there is an initial result of the autopsy, Arevalo said the AFP will not reveal it yet to avoid preempting its announcement.

The slain soldiers were given military arrival honors when their remains were brought at Villamor Airbase in Pasay City on Tuesday afternoon.

“We share the grief of LTGen Gapay and his call for an impartial and thorough investigation and his quest for justice as he minced no words in calling for accountability and liability for those involved in the incident,” he added.

Arevalo also shared that as a way forward and apart from the yearning for justice, AFP chief Santos has tasked members of the staff and subordinate commanders to ensure that these soldiers who died in line of duty will be given the assistance, benefits, and entitlements due them.

The military also hopes for a swift yet thorough investigation of the incident, with the express cooperation of the PNP and the AFP.

“While we are in search for truth and justice, we are also mindful not to allow the enemies of the state to take advantage of the incident to create a divide between the AFP and the PNP,” Arevalo said.

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