The Department of Justice indicted 9 policemen in Jolo, Sulu, for murder and planting of evidence, over the killing of 4 Philippine Army intelligence operatives in June 2020.
"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," Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra told reporters in a text message on Monday, January 4.
The development pushes forward a case that has bitterly divided the police and military for months, after they insisted on different versions of the event.
The police claimed that the incident was a "misencounter" and that they mistook the soldiers as Abu Sayyaf members. The military called it an execution and accused the police of a cover-up.
The policemen were also charged with planting evidence or Section 38 of Republic Act No. 10591 or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act.
The police planted a firearm near the left hand of Major Marvin Indammog, the panel said, citing the soldier's gunpowder test results which turned out negative. Indammog was also right-handed.
Indammog was the leader of the military squad and reportedly tried to de-escalate the situation before he was killed.
The case now moves to court, which could issue an arrest warrant against the policemen. Murder is a non-bailable offense.
The charges stemmed from the complaint of the National Bureau of Investigation, which gathered testimonies from 10 witnesses, and supported its claims with forensic reports and ballistic examinations.
The 9 policemen were recently dismissed from service. – Rappler.com
Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.