AFP rescues abducted teacher in Sulu

Marje Pelayo   •   October 18, 2019   •   376

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – After exactly 20 days in captivity, authorities finally rescued 58-year-old teacher, Rosa Singua who was abducted in Jolo, Sulu on September 27.

The public school teacher was released after days of military surveillance and a payoff operation wherein the victim’s sister paid P283,000 ransom money at the Jolo port as part of the entrapment operation.

“Dalawa po sa mga abductors ang nakuha natin at tuloy-tuloy ang ating follow up operation ay makuha po natin yung iba pang mga kasamahan nila, (Initially, we arrested two of the abductors but after a series of follow up operations, we were able to arrest the rest of their cohorts),” explained Major Arvin John Encinas, the AFP Western Mindanao Command Spokesperson.

Two of the suspects were identified as Nurina Jura and Nurjia Asakil. Authorities are still verifying as to which group abducted Singua.

Meanwhile, the AFP remains positive that they will be able to rescue a British national and his Filipina wife who were also abducted by unidentified armed men in Tukuran town.

 “Saka tayo magsasabi kung ano man yung mga nakuha naming impormasyon (We will divulge the information as) to what lead to the rescue later on,” concluded Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejena, AFP Westmincom Commander. MNP (with reports from Dante Amento)

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.

Jolo police chief sacked over fatal shooting of soldiers

Marje Pelayo   •   July 1, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Police Regional Office in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (PRO-BAR) Director PBgen. Manuel Abu has ordered the relief of P/Lt.Col. Walter Annayo of the Jolo Municipal Police Station over the fatal encounter between the police and the military that resulted in the death of four soldiers of the Philippine Army Intelligence Unit.

Police and soldiers engaged in a gunfight near the checkpoint in Sitio Marina, Barangay Walled in Jolo, Sulu on Monday (June 29). 

READ: ‘Misencounter’ between soldiers and police in Jolo kills 4

Abu said Annayo was relieved because of his command responsibility over the incident. 

“Andito siya sa provincial police office floating muna habang nag-iimbestiga pa [He will stay here at the Sulu Provincial Police Office (PPO) while the investigation is ongoing],” Abu said of Annayo. 

Replacing Annayo is P/Lt.Col. Filmore Calip, the former Chief of the 1st Provincial Mobile Force Company. 

The nine policemen involved in the encounter are also in the custody of the Sulu PPO.

“Nasa custody na ni PD dito sa provincial headquarters. Dinis-armahan na at isinumite ang kanilang firearms sa Crime Lab for ballistic exam,” Abu explained.

[The Police Director has taken the cops in his custody here at the provincial headquarters. They were disarmed and the firearms were sent to the PNP Crime Laboratory for ballistic tests.]

The relief order followed a request of Philippine Army Commanding General Gilbert Gapay to relieve the cops who killed the Army personnel. 

Meanwhile, Abu confirmed that the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has already started its investigation on the incident. 

The PNP Internal Affairs Service (PNP-IAS), likewise, is launching a moto propio investigation against the nine policemen involved in the encounter. 

PNP-IAS Inspector General Atty. Alfegar Triambulo stressed that the cops will definitely face administrative charges if proven responsible for the death of the four soldiers.

Fact-finding din kung merong makitaan ng mga lapses. Doon magre-recommend kami kung sino ang kakasuhan,” Trimabulo confirmed. 

[We will also do fact-finding to determine the lapses. That’s when we will recommend as to who will be charged.]

May patay kaya puro grave offenses iyan [There were fatalities so that’s why they are all grave offenses],” he added.

President Rodrigo Duterte, meanwhile, asked the NBI to fast track the investigation on the matter. 

In an interview, Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque said the President wants to personally meet with the nine policemen through the coordination of Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año.

Without revealing kung kailan at saan mangyayari ang pagpupulong ay hiningi ni Presidente kay Secretary Año na gusto niyang makausap iyong mga pulis. Iyong siyam na pulis na diumano ay nagpaputok duon sa apat na Army personnel,” Roque said.

[Without revealing when and where the meeting will be, the President told Secretary Año that he wanted to meet with the nine cops who allegedly gunned down the four Army personnel.]

Roque said the President was ‘extremely sad’ knowing that the involved were both members of government units.

“Gusto niya na pumunta mismo duon sa lugar dahil gusto niyang ma-lift ang morale ng kasundaluhan. Sinabi niya na sana ito na ang huling misencounter sa kanyang termino,” Roque added.

[He wanted to personally go to the site and lift the morale of our soldiers. He hopes this will be the last misencounter under his term.] MNP (with EXCLUSIVE report from Lea Ylagan)

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