MANILA – The house of representatives is set to conduct a separate investigation on the reported “misencounter” that resulted to the death of four members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in Sulu on Monday.
The fatalities were identified as Maj. Marvin Indamog; Capt. Irwin Managuelod; Sgt. Eric Velasco; and Cpl. Abdal Asula. Both Indamog and Managuelod graduated at the Philippine Military Academy and served in the intelligence unit of the Western Mindanao Command of the AFP when the fateful incident happened.
But PBA Partylist Representative Jericho Nograles would not toe the official line of the Philippine National Police (PNP) that the incident was a “misencounter.” “Unang-una, ang pagsabi ng PNP na ito ay isang misencounter ay nagulat ako dahil sa aga nilang nasabi ito,” (I was shocked when the PNP first said that the event was a misencounter at this early stage).
Rep. Nograles further said that similar event happened over a decade ago in the same road where the recent shooting incident happened when members of the Landing Unit No. 12 of the Marine Battalion were fired upon by the PNP. “Binira ng mga pulis sa daan na yan sa Sulu at pinatay nila na naka-uniporme ang mga kawal,” (The police shot them in that same road in Sulu and they killed them even if the soldiers were wearing their uniform), he said.
Nograles who used to serve as caretaker representative of the first district of Sulu and member of the Advisory Council of the Internal Affairs Service of the PNP was familiar with the history of Sulu and the policies governing PNP operations and rule of engagement.
He said studying various reports and CCTV video footages of the incident in his possession, it was clear to him that the police officers violated their own Manual of Operating Procedures, specifically Rule No. 8 on the use of firearms and it was not a misencounter but a “possible murder situation.”
He and his colleagues in the house of representatives were asking who was the man in black in the video footage who was caught tampering with the evidence in the crime scene? “Lumabas na tampered and ebidensya dahil may taong nakaitim na gumalaw sa bangkay ng mga biktima, nagbukas ng kotse at may kinuha pa sa luob ng kotse at inilagay sa bag niya,” (It appears that the evidence has been tampered because there is a man in black who touched the corpse of the victims, opened the car of the victim and put something in his bag from the car), Nograles added.
Moreover, Nograles said that the house committee on public order and safety and maybe the committee on national security and defense may call for an investigation of the incident soonest because of the intensity of the issue.
On the other hand, after insisting that the death of four soldiers in Sulu, the PNP changed its tune on Wednesday and said that what happened was indeed a “shooting incident.” The president is planning to visit the crime scene in Sulu to boost the morale of soldiers who are fighting deadlier terrorist enemies.