NBI: 1 Army soldier in Jolo deaths suffered 8 gunshot wounds

Lian Buan

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The other 2 suffered 3 gunshot wounds. The 4th soldier, a Muslim, was not autopsied as he had to be buried right away.

CRIME SCENE. The crime scene in Jolo, Sulu, after police shot dead 4 Army soldiers on June 29, 2020. Photo from the Philippine Army

MANILA, Philippines – The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) said on Thursday, July 2, that one of the 4 soldiers gunned down by the police in Jolo, Sulu, suffered 8 gunshot wounds.

“One of the three suffered eight gunshot wounds,” NBI Deputy Director Ferdinand Lavin told reporters in a message Thursday.

The 4th slain soldier, Corporal Abdal Asula, a Muslim, was not autopsied as he had to be buried right away pursuant to Islamic practice.

Asked about the other 2 soldiers autopsied, Lavin said: “I think three (gunshot wounds).”

“Basta ang gunshot wounds would range from three to eight (gunshot wounds ranged from 3 to 8),” said Lavin.

Why this matters. Army chief Lieutenant General Gilbert Gapay has said that what happened to their men at the hands of the police on Monday, June 29, “was murder.”

An initial police report said the soldiers tried to flee when cops wanted to further verify their identities.

Gapay disputed this. “There is no misencounter. Talagang hindi pumutok ‘yung tropa namin (Our troops really did not fire). It was a rubout,” the Army chief told reporters on June 30.

The military and the Philippine National Police (PNP) agreed to let the NBI lead the investigation for an impartial inquiry.

Lavin said the autopsy was finished June 30, and that the bureau had sent another forensic team to do a crime scene investigation in Jolo. The reinforcement would augment agents from the NBI Western Mindanao Regional Office who are already doing crime scene investigation.

What happened? Four Philippine Army soldiers – Major Marvin Indammog, Captain Irwin Managuelod, Sergeant Eric Velasco, and Corporal Abdal Asula – were killed on June 29, after they were flagged at a police checkpoint. 

According to the initial report of the Sulu police, the 4 soldiers – wearing plain clothes – were stopped at a checkpoint with the policemen asking for verification of their identities.

On their way to the Jolo police station for the verification, the Sulu police said the 4 soldiers fled, then stopped, disembarked, and pointed their guns at the cops. 

“However, before they could pull the trigger, the PNP personnel were able to shoot them in defense,” the initial police report read.

But it was a rubout, according to the military.

A military report said the soldiers drove past the police station, stopped, and their commanding officer disembarked – unarmed – to talk to the policemen. The cops shot him and the others, including one who remained in the car, the military said.

Apart from the gunshot wounds, Lavin did not disclose other details of the autopsy, and said these will form part of the overall report of the investigating agents. – Rappler.com

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Lian Buan

Lian Buan is a senior investigative reporter, and minder of Rappler's justice, human rights and crime cluster.