MANILA, Philippines – Philippine Army Commanding General Gilbert Gapay cries murder over the death of four military personnel in conflict with members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Jolo, Sulu on Monday (June 29).
“It was murder. There was no misencounter dahil hindi naman pumutok iyong tropa namin. Andon ang mga baril nila sa baba. [There was no misencounter because our troops did not pull a trigger. Their firearms were down.] It was a rubout!” he stressed.
The PNP, for its part, did not deny that the incident was not a misencounter but instead, was a shooting incident.
“Nais din natin bigyang linaw ang naunang pahayag na umano ay merong misencounter. Ayon sa ating pagaanalisa ng report na unang nailabas at officially released spot report ay nakita natin na wala namang paggamit or pagpapaputok ng baril mula sa mga namatay na sundalo,” noted PNP Spokesperson PBGen. Bernard Banac.
[We want to clarify earlier reports of an alleged misencounter. After analyzing the officially released as a spot report, we concluded that the fallen soldiers did not exchange gunshots.]
“Ang nakalagay lamang doon ay umamba kaya yaon ang naging response ng ating Jolo Municipal Personnel. Batay sa pag-aaral na iyan makikita natin na hindi na ito misencounter ito ay isang shooting Incident,” he added.
[What was written there was that the soldiers positioned to shoot thus the response of out Jolo Municipal Police personnel. Based on our analysis, it was no longer a misencounter but a shooting incident.]
The PNP Spokesperson, however, refused to comment further on Gapay’s claim of a rubout.
“Iginagalang natin ang mga pahayag ng ating mga pinuno at mga kasama sa Philippine Army at sa Armed Forces of the Philippines subalit ipinauubaya na natin ito sa NBI na syang maglalabas kung ano talaga ang tunay na nangyari,” Banac said.
[We respect the statements of our officers and comrades in the Philippine Army and the Armed Forces of the Philippines but we leave it to the NBI to release the report as to what really happened.]
“Kung ano ang mga naging sequence of events at kung ano ang magiging conclusion at kung ano man ito ay handa itong suportahan ng Philippine National Police,” he assured.
[The Philippine National Police is ready to support whatever the sequence of events and conclusions may arise from it.]
The PNP expressed its sincere apology to its comrades in the military for the death of the four soldiers while it assured that those responsible in the incident will be penalized accordingly.
Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said he does not want to speculate as to what really transpired in the encounter as he is not buying the claims of rubout and murder against the military personnel.
He said the AFP and the PNP have conflicting statements regarding the events that transpired in the scene thus he prefered to wait for the result of the NBI’s investigation on the incident.
“It’s not good to speculate. The accounts from both sides are conflicting. Let’s wait for the NBI investigation,” Lorenzana said.
Nonetheless, he said he fully understood Gen Gapay’s burst of emotions because the victims were among his men in the AFP.
“He is just repeating the reports he got from our people on the ground. Of course, the event happened just the other day and emotions are high among the Army troops. The army leadership in Sulu are trying hard to calm their people while inquiry is going on,” Lorenzana said. —MNP (with reports from Lea Ylagan)