MANILA (UPDATE) — The suspects in the ambush-slay of Ampatuan, Maguindanao police chief P/Lt. Reynaldo Samson and another officer have been identified, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said Wednesday.
In a statement, the PNP said that it is now conducting hot pursuit operations against six suspects in the ambush.
"We already have the identity of the suspects and our personnel are working double time to bring justice to where it should be," PNP Chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr. said.
"We ask for the public to be vigilant in their surrounding and report any suspicious-looking men in their area," he added.
Aside from Samson, P/Cpl. Salipuden Endab was also killed in the ambush that took place Tuesday in Ampatuan's Barangay Poblacion.
Two other cops were hurt: PCpl. Rogelio Dela Cuesta Jr. and PCpl. Marc Clint Dayaday.
The PNP said the police officers were about to serve warrants of arrest for robbery with violence against or intimidation of persons when they were ambushed by armed men.
“They were fulfilling their duties as law enforcers when confronted with such violent action. Their loyalty to their commitment to serve and protect the nation will be remembered,” Azurin said.
The chief expressed his sympathy to the victims and their families.
The PNP had earlier said that it is "intensifying efforts" in bringing the suspects to justice following the ambush-slay.
PNP HONORS FALLEN, WOUNDED COPS
The PNP and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) leadership visited the injured police officers.
Dela Cuesta and Dayaday were personally given the Medalya ng Sugatang Magiting, Medalya ng Kadikalaan and financial assistance by Azurin and Interior Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr.
Both police officers were being treated at the Our Lady of Hope Clinic and Hospital in Sultan Kudarat.
Their fellow police officer, PSMSgt. Reynante Quinalayo, was also awarded with the Medalya ng Kadakilaan.
“They are worthy of our praises for the dedication they displayed in fighting criminality. Their sacrifices will not be put in vain as the PNP vows to pursue the perpetrators and make them legally liable of their actions,” Azurin said.
Azurin and Abalos also conferred the Medalya ng Kadakilaan to fallen police station chief Samson and Endab.
ALLEGED PRIOR COORDINATION IN BANGSAMORO HIT
The PNP lamented the supposed prior coordination required when government forces conduct legitimate operations in the Bangsamoro, describing it as a "restriction."
Azurin said police personnel, along with the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), had to seek clearance when handing down warrants of arrest in the region.
Video from PTV
"Apparently, mayroong claim na 'yung pinasok ng ating mga kapulisan ay MILF territory. Sinasabi nila doon na kailangan pala ay nagpapaalam ang ating mga kapulisan," Azurin said in a briefing at the Malacanang Palace.
"On my own, I really question that because there is only one PNP, there is only one AFP. And we are here to serve ang ating mga kababayan. At bakit nila lilimitahan o bakit kailangang magpaalam ang ating mga kapulisan doon?" he added.
Azurin was referring to the supposed statement of Maguindanao Gov. Bai Mariam Mangudadatu, and said the police's counterpart should be "sincere" when they coordinate with the government "when they want peace."
The police chief asked Bangsamoro officials to surrender all wanted persons or criminals in their area. Warrants for the arrest of many of them have been existing for "so many years," he said.
"How can we claim safe, we are safe kung mayroon tayong hinuhuling kriminal sa lugar nila pero magpapaalam pa po tayo? Sabi ko nga, i-surrender nila lahat ng kasamahan nila, lahat ng kakilala nila na nasa territory nila," Azurin said.
"Hindi sila make-clear o hindi mawawala 'yang warrant of arrest na 'yan hangga't hindi sila nahuhuli... If they really want peace, i-surrender nila kung may kakilala sila na miyembro na may existing warrant of arrest. And then, they now negotiate with the government if they really want amnesty," he added.
It is important that the group talk to "decision makers" to prevent incidents such as the Ampatuan ambush, from happening again.
This is also the same sentiment of the military, said Azurin. It is important that law enforcement personnel "see the situation on the ground."
"Ang tinatamaan dito ay kami, mga armed services natin... Akala ba natin inembrace na nila ang gobyerno? Dapat tumulong sila sa kapayapaan sa Mindanao," he said.
- with report from Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News