ALL four Army soldiers recently killed by policemen in an alleged 'misencounter' in Jolo, Sulu sustained bullet wounds in their backs, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra revealed yesterday.
"The bullet wounds were mostly in the back of the body, with one soldier sustaining eight wounds," Guevarra said when sought for updates on the National Bureau of Investigation's independent probe into the bloody incident.
According to Guevarra, the NBI - an attached agency of the Department of Justice - has already submitted an initial report into the incident that occurred some two weeks ago in a police checkpoint in war-torn Jolo.
Guevarra continued that empty ammunition shells and cartidges, including some of the slugs, recovered from the crime scene matched the firearms of the policemen involved who were already disarmed and relieved following the incident.
The policemen were identified as Staff Sgts. Almudzrin Hadjaruddin, Iskandar Susulan and Ernisar Sappal; Patrolmen Alkajal Mandangan, Rajiv Putalan and Moh Nur Parsani; Senior M/Sgt. Abdelzhimar Padjiri, M/Sgt. Hanie Baddiri and Cpl Sulki Andaki.
"The NBI field agents have submitted their initial investigation report. The report contained the accounts of ten witnesses, the forensic findings of the medico-legal and ballistic experts, and the affidavits of the family members of the deceased army intelligence officers."
" The ballistic report clearly indicated that the shells and slugs found at the scene of the crime matched the firearms of the police officers involved," Guevarra said.
The Justice secretary said he's expecting the NBI to file formal charges before the DOJ anytime soon.
The NBI has been conducting an independent probe into the alleged misencounter between Army officers and policemen in Jolo, Sulu after the leaderships of the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines have been giving conflicting versions.
The fatalities were identified in a police report from the Jolo municipal police station as Maj. Arvin Indamog, commanding officer of the Army’s 9th Intelligence Service Unit (9ISU), Capt. Irwin Managuelod, field station commander, and intelligence operatives Sgt. Eric Velasco and Cpl. Abdal Asula.
Reports from the Sulu Provincial Police Office said the policemen involved claimed self-defense, after the soldiers supposedly lifted and pointed their firearms first to the police.
The report added that the incident occurred when the soldiers allegedly tried to flee the police station after they were brought in for questioning.
The Army, however, refuted the claims, calling the initial police report as “fabricated” and “misleading.”
Army spokesman Col. Ramon Zagala Jr. maintained that the troops could not have engaged the policemen in a firefight as they had "properly coordinated and identified themselves" as soldiers.