Interior Secretary Eduardo Año on Thursday disputed the claim of former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV that the fatal shooting of four soldiers by policemen in Jolo, Sulu early this week was an indication of the culture of impunity under the Duterte administration.
Trillanes tweeted on Tuesday that the deaths of the soldiers were the “latest price we have to pay for tolerating” the alleged extrajudicial killings (EJKs) during President Rodrigo Duterte's term.
A former Navy officer, Trillanes also claimed that the President’s “nanlaban doctrine is the poison that destroys the Philippine National Police as an institution.”
“EJK is not a policy of this government,” Año said when asked to respond to Trillanes’ statement at a Palace briefing.
“[O]n the Sulu incident, sabi ko nga we will exact justice and we will make sure that those responsible shall be accountable. Umasa kayo diyan, ako mismo ang personal na nagpa-follow up ng kaso na ito.”
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. added the deadly incident is being investigated.
“Hindi ko po alam kung anong sinasabi niya dahil hindi po natin kinukunsinti ang patayan kaya nga po masinsinang imbestigasyon ang ginagawa natin dito sa naging pagpatay sa apat na sundalo mula sa po sa Hukbong Sandatahan,” he said.
The National Bureau of Investigation and the PNP are conducting parallel investigations to get into the bottom of the incident on Monday, which prompted Duterte to call for a meeting with top police and military officials.
The PNP has disarmed and relieved from their posts the nine policemen involved in the incident. Police Lieutenant Colonel Walter Annayo, chief of the Jolo Municipal Police Station, has also been removed from his post.
Initially calling it a "misencounter," the PNP has since referred to the incident as a "shooting incident." Philippine Army chief Lieutenant General Gilbert Gapay claimed his troops were murdered.
The military said the soldiers were conducting intelligence operations to track alleged suicide bombers when they were flagged down by the policemen.
The men had identified themselves as military personnel but were told to go to a nearby police station for further verification, police said.
Upon arriving at the station, the police report said, the soldiers allegedly tried to escape, prompting the policemen to chase them. The soldiers allegedly disembarked from their vehicle and pointed their weapons at their pursuers.
Police then fired shots at the soldiers, killing them. -MDM, GMA News