PNP, AFP addressing 'lapses in coordination'  

THE Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces leaderships are fully addressing possible "lapses in coordination" which may trigger misunderstanding between soldiers and policemen involved in highly-confidential missions in the aftermath of the killing of four AFP officers in Jolo, Sulu by local policemen last June 29.

“Coordination really is the secret,” said PNP chief General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa.

The PNP chief added that he and AFP chief General Felimon Santos are still waiting for the result of the National Bureau of Investigation probe into the deadly shooting incident and have agreed to support the findings.

He added that they are of the belief that there is no more tension between police and military officers and men in Jolo with the way the investigation is ongoing. Nine policemen said to be involved in the shooting have been disarmed and are now held in Camp Crame.

“With the advent na pumunta ‘yung Joint AFP and PNP officials, I don’t think meron pang pressure na ganun or tension na ganun sa Jolo. We have been assured by both Armed Forces commanders and together with the PNP na let us just wait for the NBI to come up with the results of the investigation, and for the meantime, we continue to work together,” Gamboa told newsmen at Camp Crame.

Last week, the PNP and AFP created a Joint Board of Inquiry composed mainly of officials from the Philippine Military Academy to discuss how operational procedures and coordination between the two law enforcement agencies can be further improved in the wake of the Jolo incident. The group stayed in Jolo for four days.

Gen. Gamboa stressed that the adjustments in coordination procedures will not just be done by the PNP. “This will be a joint evaluation, joint resolution on how to go about the coordination. We can even start from strategic and down to tactical,” he  said.

The PNP chief said that the Board is expected to give its report to him and the AFP leadership in a week's time. “Generally kung anuman ang resulta ng board of inquiry, we will adjust our operational policy and of course encourage the AFP to do the same,” he said.

Gen. Gamboa said that even the nine police officers who were placed under restriction at Camp Crame want the investigation of NBI to be immediately concluded so that those not liable for the shooting can return to their families in Sulu.

The four Army intelligence officers who died were tracking two suspected suicide bombers of the Abu Sayyaf Group when their vehicle was flagged down by local police officers.

The accused policemen said they stopped the vehicle and instructed the soldiers to proceed to a nearby police station for verification of their identities. The officers claimed that the soldiers’ vehicle sped off and that they only defended themselves as the soldiers opened fire.

The Philippine Army strongly denied the claims of the policemen.

The policemen were accused of violating Police Operational Procedures when they immediately abandoned the scene of the shooting. However, even the Army soldiers who rushed to the site were also accused of committing some infractions specifically tampering of evidence.

The weapons being carried by the four slain soldiers were also not recovered and were believed to have been taken by their colleagues.  Supposed to be automatically subjected to a ballistics examination, the guns are vital in establishing facts of the case and answer questions if they were really fired during the actual shooting.