PRESIDENT Duterte flew to Zamboanga City Friday to meet with military and police officials in connection with the shooting incident involving military and policemen in Sulu last Monday that caused the death of four soldiers.
Killed in the incident were Major Marvin Indammog, commanding officer of the Intelligence Service Unit of the Philippine Army in Jolo, Capt. Irwin Managuelod, Sgt. Jaime Velasco, and Corporal Abdal Asula, of the Army’s 9th Intelligence Service Unit of the 11th Infantry Division. The bodies of Indammog, Managuelod, and Velasco were flown to Villamor Air Base where they were received by their families. Asula’s remains were immediately buried in Sulu.
Jolo policemen called it a misencounter, with one party not knowing that the other party was an ally. But Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay, commanding general of the Philippine Army, said it was not a misencounter. It was a rubout, he said.
The general said the soldiers were tailing two alleged suicide bombers affiliated with the Abu Sayyaf when they were intercepted by the police who told them to proceed to the police station. There was no attempt to flee, contrary to a police report, but they were shot down by five policemen while four other policemen served as lookouts.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana appealed to all military men to just wait for the results of the official probe of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
Gen. Felimon Santos Jr., Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff, said he has talked to Police Gen. Archie Francisco Gamboa, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief. All suspects are under PNP custody. All assured they will wait for the findings of the NBI.
President Duterte decided to go to Zamboanga to personally talk to the soldiers and policemen – first, to know what really happened and second, to boost the morale of both military and police personnel, said presidential spokesman Harry Roque.
Sen. Risa Hontiveos has also asked, through Senate Resolution No. 460, for a Senate investigation into the shooting.
All these efforts should help to clear up the conflicting reports and calm down all those who fear the incident might affect the relations and coordination between the nation’s two national armed organizations – the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police.
There might be need to clarify their respective roles and to ensure greater coordination in their operations which are bound to meet and possibly clash at some points. They might also come up with operational arrangements that will avert such tragedies as the Mamasapano massacre in 2015 when 44 Special Action Force men of the PNP were wiped out by rebel Moro forces in Maguindanao despite the presence of an entire AFP battalion nearby, all because of lack of coordination.
The Sulu shooting last Monday is truly deplorable but we hope the NBI will be able to get to the bottom of it. We also hope it will lead to greater coordination in the future between operating forces of the AFP and the PNP.