AFP accuses PNP of cover-up in Jolo shooting

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) believes that the Philippine National Police (PNP) committed a cover-up to defend their cops who "intended to kill" 4 Army intelligence officers in Jolo, Sulu, on June 29.

"When we read the report, [we asked] why this happened, it appears that there was a cover-up, that there was an angle of self defense...We find the initial [police] report fabricated and full of inconsistencies and really misleading," AFP chief Lieutenant General Gilbert Gapay said.

Gapay was addressing the Senate in its probe into the incident that has divided the police and the military after policemen shot dead the Army's officers without provocation, as reported by witnesses. (READ: NBI confirms intel soldier unarmed when cops shot him dead in Jolo)

"All reports [should] be factual. Let us not cover up misdeeds, infractions of the law. They should be charged accordingly. Being law enforcers and persons in authority, that is an aggravating circumstance," Gapay added.

Military generals told the Senate that 2 female terrorists were the subject of the Army intelligence officers operation when they were gunned down by the Jolo police.

The military has waited long enough since the killings, Gapay said, adding that the cops should now be charged in court. Pending with the Department of Justice is a complaint that accuses the cops of murder and planting evidence. (READ: PNP links soldier slain in Sulu shooting to illegal drugs)

"We have been waiting for two months already, and justice delayed is justice denied, so we expect immediate filing of the recommendations and charges found out by the NBI during their initial investigation," Gapay said.

Intent to kill

The PNP, when it reported the incident, claimed that the soldiers threatened to shoot them, forcing the cops to fire ahead. (READ: De la Rosa: 'Right coordination' between military, police could have prevented Jolo shooting)

Citing the military and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI)'s probe, Gapay said that the police report could not be further from the truth.

"There was a deliberate act. There was an intent to kill. Although we cannot ascertain the motive, there was an intent to kill," Gapay said.

The military chief likened the killing of the soldiers to Quezon City police killing retired soldier Winston Ragos in April, where Ragos was killed by a cop after appearing to pull something from his sling bag. Police said he carried a pistol, his family said his bag only carried a water bottle. (READ: NBI: Cops murdered Winston Ragos, planted evidence)

Military's call, police's defense

Before Gapay spoke, PNP chief General Archie Gamboa gave a different view: that the investigation must not be rushed so that it would not be botched.

"My warning to all is that the degree of proof that is required for a criminal conviction is proof beyond reasonable doubt," Gamboa said, before taking a swipe at the military for being caught on camera tampering with the crime scene.

On Thursday, August 20, Malacañang reiterated the assurance of President Rodrigo Duterte that justice will be served in the killing of the 4 soldiers.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque added that the case was going through regular procedures.

“No less than the President ang nangako ng katarungan…. Hayaan lang natin ang proseso umusad kasi po meron 90 days ang mga piskal para magresolve ng kaso (No less than the President promised justice…. Let’s allow the process to move forward as fiscals have 90 days to resolve the case),” he said. – With a report from Sofia Tomacuz/ Rappler.com

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers security, crime, and the city of Manila for Rappler. He was chosen as a Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.

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