(Eagle News) – The suicide bombers responsible for the Aug. 24 Jolo, Sulu bombing that killed 14 people and wounded 75 others, were close to being nabbed by the four intelligence officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) before the AFP officers were killed by members of the Jolo police on June 29.
This was revealed by AFP chief of staff Gen. Gilbert Gapay when he appeared before the Commission on Appointments on Wednesday, Sept. 2, hearing his nomination to the rank of general.
Gapay said that their team was already in position and the intelligence officers were just awaiting info on the house where the two female terrorists were staying. At that point, it was when the SUV of the 4 AFP intelligence officers was stopped by members of the Jolo police, which ended in them being shot at and killed.
“We were so close to neutralizing them, to take them down in a matter of minutes. We were just pinpointing the exact house and the takedown team was already in the vicinity,” Gapay told the CA members.
“That unfortunate shooting incident happened which disrupted that operation and the two suicide bombers were alarmed and they were able to escape the area. We were so close during that day,” he said.
-Terror blast could have been prevented-
Gapay said that they were trying to prevent the terrorist blast from happening. When the two female suicide bombers escaped that day, they feared that another attack just like the Jolo Cathedral bombing last year could happen.
The death of the four intelligence officers of the AFP was a big setback to the AFP’s intelligence operations.
“It somehow disrupted our operations. That’s why after that incident, with the escape of these two suicide bombers, we expected another incident of terror act that would be executed by the Abu Sayyaf Group,” Gapay said.
He also expressed disappointment that the nine Jolo police officers involved in the killing of the AFP intelligence officers have not yet been penalized nor removed from the service.
Gapay said that if the same thing happened with the AFP men, they would have been removed from their posts and placed under military custody.
The AFP chief of staff also clarified previous media reports that he planned to regulate social media when the anti-terror law takes effect.
He said he was referring to social media providers being used by terrorists, and not on general users.
(with a report from Meanne Corvera, Eagle News Service)