By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN
Opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros has joined calls for an independent probe over the alleged misencounter between police and army personnel recently in Jolo, Sulu that led to the death of four intelligence operatives.
According to Hontiveros, in the incident in Jolo where four Army intelligence operatives were killed by police personnel “further feeds the public’s distrust toward the Philippine National Police (PNP)
“Lalo pa at hindi ito first time na mangyari” Hontiveros said, citing the incident of former Army Corporal Winston Ragos who was gunned down by members of the police in Quezon City last April.
“Hindi pwedeng trigger-happy ang ating kapulisan,” the senator stressed upon filing proposed Senate Resolution No. 460 that aims to institutionalize measures against the excessive use of force and violence within the police force.
Hontiveros stressed that the two recent incidents demonstrate “a disturbing pattern of police behavior” that requires long-term strategic measures and legislative action.
She said extensive reform must be implemented to restore the public’s trust in our institutions.
“Dapat maintindihan ng kapulisan na ang mga pagpatay na ito ay nakakadagdag lang ng takot sa mga tao, at mas lalong nakakabawas ng tiwala,” she added.
At least two versions of the incident coming from the military and police.
The first version claimed that the slain four Army intelligence men—including a major and a captain—were supposedly trying to locate a suspected foreign suicide bomber believed to be with the local Abu Sayyaf Group when their vehicle was stopped at a police checkpoint in Jolo.
Despite identifying themselves and clarifying that they were not hostile forces, police personnel still fired at them.
Meanwhile, the other version from the police report narrates that Jolo policemen were on patrol with anti-illegal drug agents in Barangay Bus-Bus when they spotted an SUV with four armed men, who later fled.
Before the men could pull the trigger, the police shot at them in defense.
Hontiveros also cited Philippine Army spokesman Colonel Ramon Zagala’s statements saying that none of the AFP personnel fired a single shot, amid reports that the incident was a “misencounter.”
Zagala earlier revealed that the roughly nine police officers who shot at the soldiers fled the scene instead of cordoning off the area and calling for Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO).
“The police gunned down unarmed plainclothes soldiers, who could easily have been innocent civilians. Alam din natin na maraming sibilyan na ang namatay sa kamay ng mga pulis. Ilan pa ang kailangan mamatay—sibilyan man o militar, sa Maynila man o sa Jolo—para matigil ang karahasang ito?” Hontiveros said.
“The PNP has a lot to do to live up to its motto to ‘serve and protect.’ Our law enforcers should preserve peace in our communities, not disturb it,” Hontiveros concluded.