MANILA, Philippines — The nine police officers charged in the killing of four Army intelligence officers in Jolo, Sulu last year should be prevented from leaving the country, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said yesterday.
Guevarra said he directed the prosecutors to file an urgent motion in court for the issuance of a hold-departure order (HDO) against the suspects.
He said the Philippine National Police (PNP) released the accused to their families despite the request of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to hold them until the arrest warrants were issued.
“We hope that the nine accused will voluntarily turn themselves in when the warrants are eventually released by the court. Otherwise, law enforcement agents will look for them and take them into custody,” Guevarra said.
PNP chief Gen. Debold Sinas said they had no legal basis to detain the nine after they were dismissed from the service.
Bureau of Immigration spokesperson Dana Sandoval said the BI has yet to receive a request for an HDO even as she gave assurance that they are on standby to implement the order.
Office of the Prosecutor General (OPG) spokesperson Honey Delgado said the lockdown imposed in Sulu to prevent the entry of a new coronavirus strain detected in Sabah, Malaysia could have caused the delay in the issuance of the arrest warrants.
Delgado said they filed the criminal charges on Jan. 4 against Senior M/Sgt. Abdelzhimar Padjiri, M/Sgt. Hannie Baddiri, S/Sgts. Iskandar Susulan and Eniskar Sappal, Cpl. Sulki Andaki and Pat. Moh Nur Pasani of the Jolo police as well as S/Sgt. Almudzrin Hadjaruddin, Pat. Alkajal Mandangan and Rajiv Putalan of the Sulu police Drug Enforcement Unit.
“If Sulu is still on lockdown, the courts might not be operating at full capacity... It may slow down the process,” she said.
Maj. Marvin Indammog, Capt. Irwin Managuelod, Sgt. Jaime Velasco Jr. and Cpl. Abdal Asula were killed in what police initially claimed as a shootout. The military said it was murder.
The DOJ said the superiors of the accused – Col. Michael Bawayan Jr., Maj. Walter Annayo and Capt. Ariel Corcino – might still still be administratively held liable.
The military said the release of the nine police officers was an “unfortunate incident.”
Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Gen. Gilbert Gapay is “extremely disappointed” with the move of the PNP, AFP spokesman Maj. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said.
The AFP assured the family of the slain soldiers that it would continue to coordinate with concerned government agencies on the issuance of arrest warrants.
“We will help in the immediate and unimpeded service of the warrants,” Arevalo said. – Romina Cabrera, Robertzon Ramirez