ASG uses ransom money to silence people in Sulu – AFP

admin   •   June 20, 2016   •   2672

Col. Noel Detoyato speaks to reporters.

Col. Noel Detoyato speaks to reporters.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is now being criticized amid problems with the bandit group Abu Sayaff continues.

The AFP said their doing everything they can to capture the bandits and even providing assistance to the residents of Sulu.

But they sometimes find it difficult to gather information on the ground as the ASG silence some residents of Sulu by giving them portions of the kidnap-for-ransom money.

“In the process of going after them, we get information that we cannot get information on the ground is because people there receives money from the group,” AFP Public Affairs Office Chief Col. Noel Detoyato said.

Detoyato said, to resolve the problem, giving ransom to the group must stop. He further added that different sectors of the society must also provide assistance to the people of Sulu, one of the poorest provinces in the country.

“One of the solutions is to fill in the gaps in the services of the government. Those include our roles in far-flung areas. They see only us as government presence. But at the outset, there really is a need for a synchronized coordination among all sectors of society.”

But reports are now surfacing that even members of the military are involved in the kidnap-for-ransom scheme of the ASG.

The AFP belied allegations saying there are mechanisms in place to ensure that no traitors or spies exist in their ranks.

“Our soldiers are constantly rotating. We have no permanent troops there. Even the officer there is not permanent. So, how come they say that? Our troops are being rotated always for so many years now. So, their accusations are absurd,” explained Detoyato.

(DARLENE BASINGAN/UNTV NEWS)

Pangilinan seeks Senate probe on fatal shooting of 4 soldiers in Jolo

Robie de Guzman   •   July 2, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Francis Pangilinan is calling for an inquiry into the killing of four soldiers by local policemen in Jolo, Sulu.

“Nakakabahala ang balitang ito. Ngayon pa lang na hindi pa batas ang anti-terror bill, may nangyayari nang ganito. Ano na lang ang laban ng ordinaryong tao?” Pangilinan said in a statement on Wednesday.

On Monday afternoon, June 29, four members of the Philippine Army were fatally shot by police officers some meters away from the Jolo police station.

The Army said the four soldiers were on an official mission and were tracking suspected suicide bombers  when they were accosted by the local police.

The soldiers, who had been wearing plain clothes, were said to have introduced themselves to the policemen. The cops allegedly told them to go with them to a nearby police station for identity verification.

Initial police report said that as their team and Army officers approached the police station, the soldiers’ vehicle allegedly sped off, prompting a car chase.

Police said they only defended themselves when the soldiers opened fire.

The Army disputed this claim, saying the soldiers did not try to escape and never fired a single shot towards police officers based on eye-witness accounts of two civilians and of a motorcycle-riding soldier who was part of the operation trailing the soldiers’ vehicle.

Pangilinan said the police and military have different versions of what happened, and an “independent and impartial” Senate probe will “help bring out the truth.”

“This incident is disturbing because it appears that the police are quick in pulling the trigger without careful judgment. If they can do this to their fellow uniformed men, how much more to the ordinary civilians who are unarmed and defenseless?” the senator said.

Nevertheless, Pangilinan called on military and police ground commanders to “rein in their men to preserve peace and avert escalation of tension between the armed personnel.”

“We should be going after the common enemy — terrorists, drug lords, armed groups, and in this time of the pandemic, COVID — not against each other,” Pangilinan said.

The Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines earlier said they have requested the National Bureau of Investigation to conduct an impartial probe into the incident.

The nine policemen involved in the incident, as well as the chief of Jolo police station have also been ordered relieved from their posts pending investigation.

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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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