AFP claims no firefight occurred when four soldiers were shot in Jolo
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) claims there was no firefight when two Army officers and two soldiers were killed by policemen in Sulu on Monday.
"Based on report to us, there is no exchange of fire," Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo AFP spokesman, said in a television interview on Tuesday.
"From the pictures we will see that the soldiers are near their vehicle and one is still inside the vehicle and based on initial information our soldiers were fired upon while onboard their vehicle except from Maj. (Marvin) Indammog went out and talk with the policemen," he said.
Arevalo emphasized that the soldiers were not trying to escape when they were fired upon by the policemen.
According to Major Gen. Corleto Vinluan, Joint Task Force Sulu commander, said the vehicle of the soldiers went beyond the headquarters of Philippine National Police(PNP), reaching the headquarters of the Bureau of Fire Protection and they did not escape like what the previous report stated," he said.
When asked why soldiers did not stop their car in front of the police station, Arevalo admitted that he is not aware of the reason.
"That is something that we do not know for now or I am not aware of but I would surmise that they do not have any bad intention except that they moved a little further than the exact spot or in front of the police station," he said.
Arevalo also confirmed the leadership of PNP and AFP have discussed the incident and both agreed to request the assistance of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for the conduct of impartial investigation.
"We appreciate the expression of condolences by the PNP, the chief of PNP Police Gen. Archie Gamboa and our AFP chief of staff Gen. Felimon Santos Jr. they agreed to ask for the help of the NBI to have a separate and impartial, independent investigation on this," he said.
Col. Ramon Zagala, Philippine Army spokesman, said the remains of three of the four soldiers arrived in Villamor Airbase on Tuesday.
Zagala said upon their arrival the fallen soldiers were given military arrival honors by the government forces.
"The remains of Maj. Marvin A. Indammog, 39, Cpt. Irwin B. Managuelod, 33, Sgt. Jaime M. Velasco, 38, were received by Army Commanding General Gilbert Gapay, the families and comrades of the said soldiers," he said.
Zagala said burial rites of Corporal Abdal Asula, 33, will be held in Sulu.
He said Gapay also ensured the families of the fallen soldiers will be given necessary assistance by the military.
“Today we honor and remember their sacrifices for the country. We mourn and condole with their bereaved families and we ensure that the necessary assistance will be given to them,” said Gapay.
“This tragedy imposed a great loss for our pursuit of peace in the Sulu region. The Philippine Army is strongly demanding for an impartial investigation to get to the bottom of this without any intention to create animosity between the Army and the PNP. However, we are professional organization and we will not let this pass. The Army seeks that justice be served for our fallen heroes,” added Gapay. Robina Asido/DMS