MANILA, Philippines — Prosecutors are still waiting for an arrest warrant against the nine police officers accused in the killing of four soldiers in June 2020, as lockdown in Sulu may have affected court operations.
Prosecution Attorney Honey Delgado, spokesperson for the Office of the Prosecutor General, told reporters on Tuesday that they are still waiting for an arrest warrant from the court in Sulu.
Criminal information or charges have been filed against the nine Jolo cops on January 4, but Delgado said they were informed that Sulu is still on lockdown.
“If Sulu is still on lockdown, the courts might not be operating in its full capacity — may or may not slow down the process,” she added.
Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan has placed Sulu province under lockdown until January 14 due to the threat posed by the new coronavirus variant detected in Sabah, Malaysia.
The prosecution panel indicted nine police officers for murder and planting of evidence over the killing of four Philippine Army soldiers conducting intelligence on suicide bombers in June 2019. The soldiers were then tailing a group when the cops stopped them and later shot them.
In resolving the complaint filed by the National Bureau of Investigation, prosecutors held that the four soldiers were “unarmed, unsuspecting and were not in a position to defend themselves when they were shot.”
The prosecution also noted that the victims “succumbed to the multiple gunshot inflicted at the back of their bodies.”
The Philippine National Police had dismissed the nine cops on January 1 and released them from custody on January 11. PNP chief Debold Sinas said they released them so they will not be charged with arbitrary detention.
The military had expressed disappointment over their release and assured it will help in the service of warrants, once issued, against the nine police officers.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said they have asked the PNP to take custody of them until warrants of arrests have been issued.
“We hope the nine accused will voluntarily turn themselves in when such warrants are eventually released by the court. Otherwise, law enforcement agents will look for them and take them into custody,” the DOJ chief said.
He added that he directed prosecutors to file an urgent motion for the issuance of a hold departure order against all accused.