PNP says Sulu shooting ''misencounter'' with Army
By Ella Dionisio/ DMS
The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Tuesday said they are considering the incident in Sulu where two Army officers and two soldiers were killed by nine policemen as a ''misencounter”.
In a TV interview, Police Brigadier General Bernard Banac, PNP spokesperson, said the policemen might not have been able to properly identify the soldiers.
“We consider this a misencounter. A case where our cops might not have been able to identify properly those soldiers, our colleagues, part of the security forces. So this is really just a very unfortunate incident,” Banac said.
“This thing could have been prevented,” he added.
Killed were Major Marvin Indamog, commander of the 9th Intelligence Service Unit; (ISU); Captain Irwin Managuelod, field service commander of the same unit; Sgt. Eric Velasco;
and, Cpl. Abdal Asula, both personnel of the 9th ISU.
Banac said this incident is a lesson for the PNP and they will work hard to prevent it from happening again.
“There are really lessons to be learned from this incident. On the part of the PNP, we will make efforts to coordinate and communicate with our partners, colleagues in the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) and we will emphasize in our training and all our activities the importance of presence of mind, discipline and then of course proper coordination and communication and this is one thing we can really do to prevent these incidents to happen again in the future,” he said.
Banac said the policemen involved in this incident are ready to face the probe.
''Right now they are on restrictive custody and they have been disarmed already to face the investigation,” Banac said.
In a separate TV interview, Police Brigadier General Manuel Abu, Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao director, said the nine policemen were responding to a report by a policeman of the Drug Enforcement Unity (DEU) that a car where alleged soldiers were onboard was spotted in his area.
Abu said the car seemed to be conducting surveillance at DEU personnel.
“They received a call from a DEU personnel that the car which was seen a few days ago was sighted again in front of him. The place where they stopped before was also in front of another DEU personnel. That’s why they asked for backup,” he said.
When the policemen arrived, Abu said the soldiers were only wearing civilian clothes and when asked for identification, they shouted at them.
To prevent altercation, the policemen asked the soldiers to go to the police station for identification. But upon arriving at the station, the soldiers' vehicle did not stop and went past the police mobile.
They followed the vehicle and were able to catch up due to traffic but the soldiers allegedly alighted their vehicle and fired at the cops.
“Cops inside the mobile followed them. They are on board a police mobile and also wearing uniforms but they are (also) wearing civilian clothes… One of them has an armalite while the other has short firearms. So there is an intention because the police are wearing uniforms,” Abu said.
According to the military, the soldiers were on a special mission that’s why they are wearing civilian clothes.
Based on the witnesses, the soldiers did not provoke the cops but Banac said they have to determine if there was really a threat to the lives of the policemen.
“We don't know yet how or what were our cops thinking at that time and why they made such action and they fired their guns. We have to determine was there really a threat against their lives and the sequence of events that triggered this incident,” Banac said.
“So as we know the situation in Sulu is very tense and AFP and PNP are both cooperating in the fight in the threat against terrorism and we will have to look at the overall picture and as we know no amount of explanation can really console the families of the slain soldiers at this moment,” Banac added.
Banac said the PNP are now coordinating with AFP for a thorough investigation and asked the support and help of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to conduct an impartial, independent probe.
Banac said the incident is very unfortunate and they expressed their deep sorrow and condolence to the families of the slain soldiers.