The commanding general of the Philippine Army (PA) has sought the relief of the chiefs of the Jolo town police and the Sulu provincial police office because of the police killings of four soldiers during an operation at the rebel stronghold last Monday, stressing this was a “rubout.”
“This was not a misencounter. This was murder. This was a rubout,” said Philippine Army chief Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay, as bodies of three of the slain soldiers were flown to Manila. One has been buried in Sulu.
Gapay invoked command responsibility in seeking the removal of the town and provincial police chiefs “at the bare minimum.”
The four soldiers, all intelligence operatives, were tracking two suspected suicide bombers from the terrorist Abu Sayyaf group when their van were flagged down by police at a checkpoint.
Gapay said while the soldiers cooperated, they were still shot dead. He said the men were not armed.
Police had claimed the soldiers, who were not in uniform, sped past the checkpoint and drew their guns at the officers, prompting them to fire.
Gapay said this claim was “fabricated, parang sine (like in the movies).”
“Hindi pa nga tapos ‘yung kay Ragos. Wala pa ngang nangyayari doon. Tapos ito na naman? (The case involving [retired soldier Winston] Ragos is not yet finished. Nothing has happened there yet. And now this?),” said Gapay.
Gapay was referring to Ragos, the former Army officer’s fatal shooting at a quarantine checkpoint in Quezon City on April 21 involving a police officer.
Ragos was a veteran of the 2018 Marawi siege who was battling Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
A witness and his sister said Ragos was unarmed during the shooting./Stacy Ang