President Rodrigo Duterte has appealed to both the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to “stay calm” to defuse tension between the military and police following the shooting incident in Jolo, Sulu, which left four soldiers dead.
“There is now this raging feeling of maybe hate. It could be hate, which is a dangerous thing really to nurture. It does not do any good because there’s the investigation. And I am giving you my word of honor that the investigation will proceed to find out the truth unfettered, unbridled by anybody except ‘yung sa trabaho (those on the job),” the President said in his speech Friday night at Edwin Andrews Air Base in Zamboanga City.
On the other hand, Palace spokesman Harry Roque said the President also appealed to both the military and police to “settle down” as investigation was underway and to find out what really transpired during the incident.
“The President is appealing to both the PNP and the AFP to calm down. Give the National Bureau of Investigation the time to probe the incident,” Roque said.
During his speech, Duterte said no one would interfere with the NBI, adding: “if there is anyone who is found to make the mistake, then he has to pay for it.”
“What I’m saying is we’re trying to figure out how we can in the meantime do something to give you the assurance that justice will be done. So I’m giving it to you, I said, as a word of honor of a President (that) I will find out the truth from the investigators and I hope that it would satisfy all,” he said.
The head of the Philippine Army, Lt. Gen. Gener Gilbert Gapay, had described the incident as “murder.”
Both the military and police gave different reports of the incident.
According to police spot report on the incident, the policemen confronted the armed men they spotted in Sitio Marina in Jolo. These men had identified themselves as military personnel and the police directed them to proceed to a nearby station for further verification of their identities.
Upon arriving at the station, the report said, the soldiers 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 all four of them.
Meanwhile, an Army soldier and three others died after unidentified armed men fired at them in Tipo-Tipo, Basilan Saturday morning.
The three other fatalities were two Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit - CAFGU Active Auxiliary (CAA) members and one civilian, the Army’s Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) said.
Four others were also wounded — two CAA and two civilians, according to WestMinCom.
In another incident in Maguindanao Friday, police and military troopers said they killed a suspected bomb courier of the Islamic State-inspired Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Maguindanao during an operation.
Col. Arnold Santiago, Maguindanao Police chief, identified the slain suspect as Alimudin Unggala, 18, of Barangay Madia in the municipality.
Military and police intelligence reports said Unggala was a close aide of BIFF commander Imam Bungos, whose group operates in the marshy areas of Maguindanao.
The BIFF was tagged in a series of deadly bomb attacks in central Mindanao since 2016.
“Acting on a tip, combined police and military personnel responded and caught up with the suspect on Friday morning while on his way to the town proper aboard his motorbike,” Santiago said in a report.
Upon seeing the lawmen, he said Unggala ran off and attempted to lob a grenade, prompting government troopers in pursuit to shoot him.
Recovered underneath Unggala’s motorcycle seat were bomb-making components. With PNA