MANILA, Philippines — The military on Monday said it was "extremely disappointed" after police released cops involved in the shooting in Jolo, Sulu that left four Army soldiers dead back in June of last year.
PNP chief Debold Sinas said nine police personnel were released from custody earlier today after no warrant was issued by the court.
It was despite the justice department indicting them on January 4 with murder and planting of evidence over the incident which former Army general and now AFP chief Gilbert Gapay said was murder.
"Sila ay nai-release na kasi wala pong warrant of arrest na ibinigay sa amin," said Sinas. "Ayaw namin na ma-charge kami ng arbitrary detention at saka 'yung pinirmahan ko [na] dismissal is implementable na 'yun."
(They were released because no arrest warrants were given to us. We don't want to be charged with arbitrary detention, and the dismissal order I signed for them is already implementable.)
Sinas on January 1 signed the dismissal order for the cops per recommendation of the PNP's Internal Affairs Service.
The said Army soldiers were said to be gathering intel on suicide bombers linked to the Abu Sayyaf group on June 29 when the apparent encounter between state forces took place.
DOJ's Prosecutor General Benedicto Malcontento said the prosecution had found probable cause to charge the following cops on the said charges:
AFP chief Gapay said it was "only unfortunate" that no warrants had been issued despite the justice department's filing of murder charges last week.
"We assure our personnel and the relatives of the slain soldiers that the AFP will continue with our persistent coordinations with relevant government agencies for the issuance of the said warrants," he said. "Once issued, we will help in the immediate and unimpeded service of said warrants to the named police personnel."
At last week's indictment, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra had also directed Malcontento to secure the warrants for the nine accused.
“I understand that the accused police officers have been dismissed from the service, so the court should immediately obtain jurisdiction over their person, lest they be able to flee,” he said.
The case stemmed from the complaint filed by the National Bureau of Investigation, which was ordered by President Rodrigo Duterte to conduct the probe after the police and military gave two vastly different accounts of the incident. — with reports from Kristine Joy Patag