MANILA—A court in Sulu has issued warrants of arrests and hold departure orders against the 9 police officers tagged in the killing of 4 soldiers in Jolo, Sulu in June last year, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said Friday.
“The court has issued the arrest warrants and hold departure orders against all the 9 accused today,” Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra told reporters in a message.
“I will direct the NBI to help implement the service of these court processes,” he added.
The statement came 3 days after Guevarra revealed that the Philippine National Police (PNP) released the 9 Sulu cops last week after they were dismissed from service despite the DOJ’s request to hold the detention longer.
Criminal charges for 4 counts of murder and 1 count of planting of evidence were filed by government prosecutors against Police Senior Master Sgt. Abdelzhimar Padjiri, Police Master Sgt. Hanie Baddiri, Police Senior Sgts. Iskandar Susulan, Ernisar Sappal and Admudzrin Hadjaruddin, Police Cpl. Sulki Andaki, and Patrolmen Moh Nur Pasani, Alkajal Mandangan, and Rajiv Putalan on January 4.
PNP chief Gen. Debold Sinas had explained there were no warrants of arrest months into the cops’ detention and the PNP wanted to avoid being accused of arbitrary detention.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) expressed its dismay over the release of the 9 cops.
Guevarra also pointed out that prosecutors recommended “no bail” for all the accused.
A non-bailable charge such as murder means the accused will have to show to the court that the evidence against them is not strong so that they can be allowed to post bail, as opposed to bailable offenses where the accused can immediately post bail as a matter of right, without need for any hearing.
Meanwhile, he attributed the delay in the issuance of the warrants of arrest to the lockdown in Sulu over concerns about a new COVID-19 variant.
Court Administrator Midas Marquez explained on Wednesday the handling judge was not able to return to Sulu because of the lockdown.
Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta, also on the same day, designated Judge Alsad Hailil Alfad Jr., the presiding judge of Regional Trial Court Branch 25 of Siasi, Sulu, to act as presiding judge of RTC Branch 3 of Jolo and Branch 4 of Parang, Sulu “to take cognizance of all urgent matters pending in the said court.”
Prosecution lawyer Honey Delgado, spokesperson of the Office of the Prosecutor General, said the arrest warrants were issued on Thursday while the hearing on prosecutors’ plea for issuance of hold departure orders was held Friday.
It was immediately granted.