Philippines: Junior Officer Kills Sulu Police Chief

BenarNews staff
Zamboanga, Philippines
Philippines: Junior Officer Kills Sulu Police Chief Members of the Philippine National Police conduct morning exercises in their office in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Jan. 25 2021.

The police chief of Sulu province in the southern Philippines was shot and killed by a subordinate officer Friday after the boss reprimanded him about his haircut, according to officials.

Col. Michael Bawayan Jr., 49, the Sulu Provincial Police Office director, died while being taken to a hospital after being shot at a COVID-19 checkpoint in Jolo town, a police report said.

Bawayan’s men then shot dead his alleged assailant, who was identified as Staff Sergeant Imran Jilah, 43, a member of the 3rd Maneuver Platoon of the 2nd Provincial Mobile Force Company (PMFC), the report said.

“The security of the [provincial director] retaliated … [which] resulted in the killing of the suspect,” the police said.

Tension between both men had been building since last week, when Bawayan publicly reprimanded the suspect for a non-regulation haircut, according to police.

On Friday, the police chief saw Jilah manning the checkpoint and decided to cut his hair himself. The police colonel scolded the sergeant, left the post and returned with a pair of scissors, according to a report by Associated Press.

“However, as he approached the suspect he was instantly shot,” a police source, who asked not to be named because he was not authorized to speak about the incident publicly, told BenarNews.

Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, the chief of Philippine National Police, directed the police Special Investigation Task Group (SITG) to investigate the killings of both Bawayan and Jilah.

“We do not want to make hasty conclusions at this point. We’d rather await the result of the investigation,” Eleazar said in a statement.

“I am not inclined to give a deadline for the SITG to finish its investigation, to avoid undue pressure that may lead to haphazard results.”

Militant suspects detonate bomb

This was the second violent incident involving police in Sulu, a chain of islands located in the far-southern Philippines and a hotbed of Islamic militant activity.

In June last year, four army intelligence operatives were allegedly slain by police in Jolo, the provincial capital, while on a mission to hunt down an Abu Sayyaf operative identified as a key planner of a twin suicide bombing that killed 23 people at a local church in January 2019.

The cops gunned down the military intelligence men although an initial investigation revealed that the soldiers had identified themselves to the police who flagged down their vehicle.

In January, the Philippine National Police released nine police officers who had been in custody after dismissing them, but authorities ordered that they be re-arrested.

Friday’s incident in Jolo occurred days after local police arrested a civilian police employee who, it turned out, was wanted on terrorism charges.

Meanwhile, in another part of the southern Philippines, suspected members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters detonated a homemade bomb, leaving one soldier dead and seven others wounded earlier this week, the military said on Friday.

The soldiers were aboard a military truck in a remote village in Maguindanao province when they were attacked late Wednesday night, regional military spokesman Lt. Col. John Paul Baldomar said. He did not say why the incident was made public two days later.

BIFF is a splinter group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, a former separatist group that signed a peace deal with Manila and now controls an autonomous Muslim region in the south.

Like the Abu Sayyaf Group, BIFF is a militant group that has also pledged allegiance to the so-called Islamic State extremist group.

Jeoffrey Maitem contributed to this report from reporting from Cotabato City, southern Philippines.


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