SPD SOCO team probed over terror raid breaches

PHILIPPINE National Police chief, General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa yesterday ordered the investigation of some officers and men of the Southern Police District Crime Laboratory Office who were accused of committing many infractions during the investigation of the counter-terror operation in Parañaque City on Friday which left four suspects dead.

The PNP chief ordered PNP Crime Laboratory director, Brigadier Gen. Rolando J. Hinanay to investigate the complaints aired by the Parañaque City Police Station against officers of the SPD SOCO unit during the processing of the scene of the shootout as well as the remains of the suspects.

Parañaque City police chief, Colonel Robin Sarmiento said officers of the SPD Crime Laboratory Office were ‘uncooperative’ during the conduct of the legitimate police operation in Barangay Don Bosco.

First, the official said that hours before they served the search warrant for violation of Republic Act 10591 or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulations Act of 2013 issued against the suspects by a local court, he got a call from one of the SOCO officers that her team cannot possibly join the scheduled mustering of the troops who will join the raid.

Sarmiento said that their Tactical Operations Center called up the SOCO office in advance since they need Crime Lab personnel to be at the site since they intend to recover firearms and explosives in the house of their targets. The official said the officer declined his request that their team be prepositioned in a nearby area so they may arrive faster once called.

Shortly after the shootout broke out past 12 a.m. Friday, Sarmiento said they called the assistance of the SPD Scene-of-the-Crime Operations (SOCO) team in processing the scene of the shootout.

The SOCO team arrived  around 1:40 Friday. The official added that the SOCO team leader also refused to subject the suspects who were taken to the hospital to a paraffin test saying they need a computerized printed form and not the handwritten request from the Investigator-on-Case.

Around 12 noon Friday, Sarmiento said that he was told by his chief investigator that he was having difficulty in asking the SOCO team to conduct the paraffin test as they were asking not only for the printed request but also a written request from the hospital to allow them to work on the cadavers of the suspects who succumbed to their gunshot wounds.

The paraffin test was done past 6 p.m. Friday after the officer who relieved the first officer acted on the request of the investigator, said Sarmiento.

National Capital Region Police Office director, Major Gen. Debold M. Sinas said that as far as he is concerned, the SPD SOCO Team presented so many alibis and even blamed the Parañaque City police for their delayed actions.

He confirmed that the SOCO Team arrived past 2 a.m. Friday at the scene of the gunfight although they were informed ahead of time of the major counter-terror operation.

Maj. Gen. Sinas said the same team also failed to immediately act on a request to process the cadavers of the four suspects who, in accordance with Muslim burial tradition must be buried within 24-hours of their death.

The official said that Muslim leaders and priests have been always advising them to see to it that the bodies of their fellow Muslims who were killed in shootouts and other incidents must be buried on the same day as a show of respect to their customs and tradition.

Sinas said his order for his men is to see to it that the bodies of Muslims killed in police operations must be immediately released to their relatives to show respect to their religion.

During the Friday operation, security troops raided the suspected terrorist safehouse located at Block 5, Lot 4, Annex 46 in Better Living Subdivision in Parañaque City where they shot dead four heavily-armed suspects during the ensuing gunbattle.

Members of the PNP Intelligence Group, the National Capital Region Police Office, the Armed Forces and the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency stormed the suspects’ safehouse on the strength of a search warrant issued by at Block 5, Lot 4, Annex 46 in Better Living Subdivision on the strength of a search warrant  by Judge Noemi Balitaan of the Parañaque City Regional Trial Court Branch 258, said PNP-IG director, Brigadier Gen. Joseph Ulysses C. Gohel.

The official said that during the raid, the targets of the raid identified as Merhama Abdul Sawari alias ‘Mheng,’  Bensaudi  Sali alias ‘Bhenz,’  Rasmin Hussin and Jamal Kalimming resisted and lobbed a grenade at the officers before firing shots at them.

One policeman identified as Corporal Ehrol Gamboa of the NCRPO Regional Special Operations Unit was shot on both legs during the encounter and remained in the hospital.

Recovered inside the raided place were three blasting caps, different kinds of wife, two bottles containing suspected explosive materials, two caliber .45 pistols, one cal. .38 revolver, one cal. 5.56 revolver,  one M-16 automatic rifle, dozens of live ammunition, two black ISIS flags,  two hand grenades, a plastic container with suspected explosive ingredients, an improvised firing device and a 9-volts battery.