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Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo on Friday said he was disappointed over the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) accusation that one of four soldiers killed in Jolo, Sulu is involved in illegal drugs.

“Ang hindi natin gusto, parang sinisiraan pa ‘yung isang Army dahil ang pinatay daw eh sangkot daw sa droga (What we don’t want is the slain member of the Philippine Army has been linked to illegal drugs),” Panelo said in his commentary show aired on state-run PTV-4.

His statement came after Brig. Gen. Manuel Abu, head of the Police Regional Office-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, said in a Senate hearing on Wednesday that Cpl. Abdal Asula, one of the four military intelligence operatives slain by local police in Jolo Sulu on June 29, had links with an illegal drug syndicate.

Panelo advised the police to stop making accusations against Asula.

“Alam po ninyo kapag namatay na, wala na siyang pagkakataon na ipagtanggol ang sarili niya (You know, when the person died, he no longer had the chance to defend himself),” he said.

Panelo said it would be better for the police officers involved in the shooting incident to find a “competent” lawyer to defend themselves from the cases lodged against them.

“‘Yung mga pulis na involved, humanap na lang kayo nang magaling na abugado para ipagtanggol ang mga sarili niyo. Huwag niyo na lang siraan itong mga namatay na (To the involved police officers, look for a competent judge who can defend you. Do not defame the slain soldiers),” he said.

Apart from Asula, Maj. Marvin Indammog, Capt. Irwin Managuelod and Sgt. Jaime Velasco were killed in the shooting incident involving nine police officers in Jolo, Sulu on June 29.

The four slain soldiers were conducting intelligence and monitoring operations against two suspected suicide bombers when they were gunned down by nine Jolo-detailed police officers.

The National Bureau of Investigation Western Mindanao has already filed four counts of murder and planting of evidence against Senior M/Sgt. Abdelzhimar Padjiri, M/Sgt. Hanie Baddiri, S/Sgt. Iskandar Susulan, S/Sgt. Ernisar Sappal, S/Sgt. Almudzrin Hadjaruddin, Cpl. Sulki Andaki, Pat. Mohammad Nur Pasani, Pat. Alkajal Mandangan, and Pat. Rajiv Putalan.

Panelo ensured that justice would be served for the deaths of four soldiers.

“Walang whitewash dito. Kung sino ang may kasalanan ay mananagot (There would be no whitewash here. One must be held accountable if need be),” he said.

In July, President Rodrigo Duterte vowed to punish the cops involved in the killing of the four soldiers, if probe results show that they committed a mistake in the shooting incident.

Panelo said Duterte would make sure that the legal process takes its course.

“Sabi ni President (The President said), ‘Let the law take its course.’ Hindi pupuwedeng may mga malakas may impluwensiya (He will not side with anyone nor give them a favor),” he said. (PNA)

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