(Eagle News)–The commanding general of the Philippine Army on Tuesday, June 30, said there was “no provocation” on the part of the soldiers who were killed in a “fatal shooting” by policemen in Jolo on Monday, as he called for a “full-blown investigation.”
In a statement, Lt. General Gilbert Gapay said based on eyewitness accounts, no altercation transpired between the two parties either “to warrant such a carnage.”
“Furthermore, no agents from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency are involved and this is not an anti-drug operation,” Gapay said.
The Army said the soldiers were on a mission to identify the location of terrorists in the area.
The military intelligence team composed of two officers and two enlisted personnel under the 11th Infantry Division, the Army said, was “hot on the trail of Abu Sayyaf members, bomb makers, and suicide bombers in Sulu province” on board an SUV when they were flagged down by personnel of Jolo Municipal Police Station who were manning a checkpoint in Jolo town proper on Monday, at 2 p.m.
“Even after properly identifying themselves, the police personnel approached and fired upon them for still unknown reasons,” the Army said.
A police report from the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, on the other hand, said the men who identified themselves as soldiers fled upon arrival at the Jolo Municipal Police Station for verification, triggering a vehicular chase between policemen and the “armed men.”
At one point, the report said one of the men pointed a gun at the policemen, prompting them to retaliate.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año has ordered the disarming of the policemen involved in the incident, and ordered them placed under restrictive custody.
He said he has asked for a probe into the incident, which the PNP has described as a “misencounter.”
The PNP has vowed to cooperate in the probe.
“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 said.