THE Supreme Court yesterday assigned an acting judge to handle the criminal charges filed against nine policemen implicated in the death of four Army intelligence officers in Jolo, Sulu last June 29.
The acting judge was designated after no warrants of arrest were issued against the police officers despite the filing of criminal information against them before the Jolo, Sulu regional trial court.
Justice Menardo Guevarra said the province of Sulu is currently on COVID-19 lockdown, thus affecting court operations.
In Administrative Order No. 12-2021, Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta designated Judge Alsad Hailil Alfad, Jr., Presiding Judge Branch 25, Regional Trial Court Siasi, Sulu as acting Presiding Judge of Branch 3 RTC Jolo, Sulu, and Branch 4 of RTC Parang, Sulu.
Alfad will attend to all pending matters in said courts until the return of the regular judges or until further notice, the order read in part.
Just the other day, Guevarra disclosed that the Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed criminal information against the police officers, but no warrants of arrests have been issued against them yet due to the prevailing COVID-19 lockdown in the province.
He made the disclosure after the Philippine National Police (PNP) released the police officers from its custody in Camp Crame.
PNP chief Gen. Debold Sinas said Monday that there was no warrant of arrest that was provided to further detain the nine police officers.
“The DOJ prosecutors filed the criminal information against the 9 police officers last January 4. The court was supposed to issue the warrants of arrest thereafter, but apparently failed to do so because of the current lockdown in Sulu.”
“In the meantime, the 9 police officers were released from custody despite requests of the DOJ with the PNP to hold them awhile until the arrest warrants were issued. We hope that the 9 accused will voluntarily turn themselves in when such warrants are eventually released by the court. Otherwise, law enforcement agents will look for them and take them into custody,” Guevarra said.
Last week, the police officers have been indicted before the Jolo, Sulu regional trial court after probable cause was established against them during preliminary investigation on the complaint filed by the National Bureau of Investigation.
In a resolution, the respondent-lawmen to be charged with four counts of murder are: Senior Master Sergeant Abdelzhimar Padjiri, Master Sergeant Hannie Baddiri, Staff Sergeants Iskandar Susulan and Erniskar Sappal, Corporal Sulki Andaki and Patrolman Moh Nur Pasani from the Jolo Municipal Police Station; and Staff Sergeant Almudzrin Hadjaruddin and Patrolmen Alkajal Mandangan.
The offense was non-bailable.
Likewise, government prosecutors found probable cause against them for the charge planting of evidence under Section 38 of RA 10591 or the Comprehensive firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act.
On the other hand, the DOJ dismissed the charge of neglect of duty against the police officers’ superiors, namely:
P/Col. Michael Bawayan Jr., P/Maj. Walter Annayo, and P/Capt. Ariel Corcino.
The NBI has conducted an independent probe into the alleged misencounter between Army officers and policemen in Jolo, Sulu after the leadership 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.