ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines — An alleged “misencounter” with police resulted in the death of four members of a Philippine Army intelligence unit in Jolo, Sulu, on Monday afternoon (June 29).
In a statement, the Philippine Army confirmed that the fatalities were two intelligence officers and two enlisted personnel under the 11th Infantry Division who were on a mission to identify the location of known terrorists in the area.
The PA said the team was flagged by members of the Jolo Municipal Police Station manning a checkpoint in front of Jolo Central Fire Station in Barangay Walled City, Jolo, Sulu.
But even after properly identifying themselves, the police allegedly approached the soldiers and fired at them though the exact reasons behind the incident remain unknown.
“We are yet to establish the motive of the police,” said Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, commander of the Western Mindanao Command.
The Philippine Army has already requested a full-blown investigation on the incident.
“We 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 give justice,” he added.
While investigation is still ongoing, the Philippine Army has appealed to the public not to sensationalize the incident through social media or any other means.
“We will wait for the investigation to be completed,” Sobejena said.
Meanwhile, Army Commanding General Lt.Gen. Gilbert Gapay said there were no altercations that transpired between the police and soldiers based on witnesses’ accounts.
Gapay assured, however, that there was no provocation on the part of the Army personnel that might have triggered the gunfight.
He clarified that it was not anti-drug operations thus no member of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency was involved.
“The Army grieves and condoles with the families of our fallen men. There will be no let up in our quest for truth and justice,” Gapay concluded.
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