Four soldiers were killed following an alleged misencounter with policemen in Barangay Walled City, Jolo, Sulu, according to a report from the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and the police.
The initial report said the Jolo Municipal Police Station (MPS) and the Provincial Drug Enforcement Unit were on patrol at Barangay Bus-Bus when they spotted a gray Montero SUV boarded by four armed men along Sitio Marina, Barangay Walled at around 2:40 p.m. on Monday, June 29.
When confronted by the Philippine National Police team, the men introduced themselves as members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. They were then directed to proceed to Jolo MPS for verification.
Upon arrival at the station, police said the men fled toward Martirez, Barangay San Raymundo.
When PNP personnel chased them, the police said the men disembarked from their vehicle with firearms. The men pointed their firearms towards the personnel, however, before they could pull the trigger, the police was able to shoot them in defense, the report said.
The report added police could not find any motive yet for the shooting. A team from the Scene of the Crime Operatives is currently processing the scene.
Follwing the incident, the head of the Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) on Monday called for an impartial investigation.
WesMinCom commander Lieutenant General Cirilito Sobejana said he has already asked the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to look into the death of the four soldiers following the misencounter.
“I also requested the NBI to investigate to ensure impartiality. We don't want any escalation of hostilities out of the incident. Our interest is to know the facts and justice is given,” Sobejana said.
“Ang sigurado lang, itong apat na sundalo ay ginagawa nila ‘yong kanilang trabaho as reported by 11th infantry division,” he added.
Sobejano insisted the four men were on an official mission.
“They were on official mission, ang ano lang doon kung bakit nagkaroon ng barilan. ‘Yon ang dapat imbestigahan ng NBI at they are ready for the investigation. By early tomorrow, nasa Jolo na ‘yong mga ‘yon,” he said.
“[T]here are several versions so very sketchy as of now kaya ang NBI ay ni-request ko na sila na mag-imbestiga para ma-uphold natin ‘yong impartiality, mailabas ‘yong facts at mabigyan ng histisya ‘yong apat na sundalong namatay,” Sobejana added.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año ordered the police officers involved in the killing of four soldiers disarmed and placed under the custody of the Sulu Provincial Police Director.
The PNP also extended its condolences to the bereaved families of the soldiers.
Año said the PNP personnel will be investigated by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG). He added he would also request a parallel investigation by the [National Bureau of Investigation].
“The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) have been working closely in the fight against the terrorists. I want to know what really happened and no stone must be left unturned,” he said.
“As an immediate administrative action, all personnel involved in the incident, particularly from the Jolo Municipal Police Station, are restricted to quarters in preparation for the NBI’s investigation,” the PNP added.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana called the incident "very unfortunate" without elaborating.
“Very unfortunate incident. No additional comment muna while inquiry is ongoing. Very hazy pa dumadating na report — incident report pa lang. The NBI in Zamboanga will conduct inquiry,” Lorenzana said.
AFP chief General Felimon Santos Jr. said the PNP has informed them that the PNP personnel involved in the shooting are already in custody of authorities.
“We are still conducting investigation. The PNP and AFP will ask NBI to conduct the formal investigation. The PNP also informed the AFP that they already put in custody the PNP personnel involved,” Santos said in a text message to GMA News Online. —LDF/NB, GMA News