Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the court had also issued a hold-departure order against the policemen accused of killing the Army intelligence officers. That would stop them from leaving the country.
“I will direct the National Bureau of Investigation to help implement the service of these court processes,” Guevarra said in a text message to reporters.
The Office of the Court Administrator earlier said the issuance of the arrest warrants was delayed because the judge assigned to the case could not return to the court because Sulu is under a COVID-19 lockdown.
Sulu is on lockdown from Jan. 4 to 17 to prevent the entry of the new coronavirus variant in the province. The variant was detected in nearby Sabah, Malaysia.
The Philippine National Police dismissed the nine policemen from the service at the start of the year, but the absence of an arrest warrant prompted the PNP to release them from custody.
The policemen are accused of killing Major Marvin Indamog, Captain Irwin Managuelod, Sergeant Eric Velasco and Corporal Abdal Asula.
The soldiers were conducting intelligence operations in Barangay Walled City on June 29 when they were flagged down by the police. Though they identified themselves as military personnel, the police told them to go to a nearby police station for further verification.
Upon arriving at the station, the soldiers allegedly tried to escape, prompting the policemen to chase them, police claimed. The soldiers allegedly disembarked from their vehicle and pointed their weapons at their pursuers. The police then shot the soldiers.
Armed Forces chief General Gilbert Gapay, who was then chief of the Army, said his men did not fire.
The National Bureau of Investigation later found that the soldiers were shot mostly in the back and had three to eight gunshot wounds.
The dismissed police officers were also accused of planting evidence.
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