Regional Updates (07/14/20)

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Cops to face charges over death of 4 soldiers in Jolo shooting

THE NATIONAL Bureau of Investigation (NBI) will soon file a case against the policemen involved in the shooting incident in Jolo that left four soldiers dead, according to Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra. “Unless the NBI intends to submit a supplemental report, I expect that a criminal complaint will be filed very soon with the DoJ (Department of Justice),” he told reporters via Viber. NBI field agents already submitted their initial investigation report containing accounts of 10 witnesses, forensic findings of medico-legal and ballistic experts, as well as affidavits of the family members of the killed officers. The ballistic reports “clearly indicated that the shells and slugs found at the crime scene matched the guns of the police officers,” he said, adding that the bullet wounds were mostly on the back, with all soldiers sustaining multiple wounds.

Mr. Guevarra said he has yet to be informed of the exact charges that will be filed. Nine policemen involved in the incident have been relieved from their posts. The four victims were all army officers on an intelligence gathering mission relating to the local terror group Abu Sayyaf in Jolo, the capital of Sulu province, on June 29 when they were killed. The incident has caused tension between the military and the police, which initially reported it as a “misencounter.” The military, however, said the four were unarmed. President Rodrigo R. Duterte, in a visit to Jolo on Monday, again appealed to the military not to bear grudge against the Philippine National Police (PNP). “It is my hope that this isolated incident will not spark any animosity between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the PNP,” he said in a speech before soldiers. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas and Gillian M. Cortez

African Swine Fever confirmed in Magpet

AFRICAN SWINE Fever (ASF) has been confirmed in hog farms in Magpet, Cotabato and disease control measures, including restrictions on the transport of pigs and pork products, are already being implemented. The Department of Agriculture (DA), in a bulletin on Tuesday, said samples taken from reported swine mortalities in the area have tested positive for ASF. The Cotabato provincial veterinary office first conducted disease investigation and surveillance procedures on July 1 after receiving reports of pig mortalities in backyard farms. About 123 pigs owned by 48 farmers have been culled and properly disposed of. “We encourage the swine stakeholders in the area to report any unusual swine mortalities to its municipality, city, or provincial veterinary offices,” the DA said. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave