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4 AFP members on “special mission” killed by PNP in Sulu misencounter

Jolo, Sulu shooting incident | Photo courtesy: RH Jun Dimacutac

At least four members of the Army Intelligence, including two officers, were killed in an alleged ‘misencounter’ with policemen in Jolo, Sulu on Monday afternoon, according to a report from the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

In an initial report from the Sulu Provincial Police Office, the Jolo Municipal Police Station (MPS) and the Provincial Drug Enforcement Unit were on patrol at Barangay Bus-Bus when they spotted a gray Montero SUV boarded by four “armed” men along Sitio Marina, Barangay Walled at around 2:40 PM on Monday, June 29.

When confronted by the Philippine National Police (PNP) team, the men introduced themselves as members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). They were instructed to go to the Jolo MPS for questioning.

But, upon arriving at the station, the men allegedly defied the order and fled toward Martirez, Barangay San Raymundo.

Reports further stated that a chase ensued between the PNP personnel and the AFP members. The police report further indicated that those subjects for investigation “lifted and pointed their firearms towards the PNP (Philippine National Police) personnel.”

“However, before they could pull the trigger, the PNP personnel were able to shoot them in defense, thus an exchange of gunfire ensued which resulted in the death of the four suspects,” the report said.

Different story?

However, in a text message, 11th Infantry Division commander MGen Corleto Vinluan said that the incident was not a misencounter since his troops were “unarmed.”

“They were gunned down by the PNP,” Vinluan insisted in a report from CNN Philippines.

Armed Forces of the Philippines Western Mindanao Command Chief Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana also defended the AFP members saying that they were on an “official mission” and was initially assigned to the 11th Infantry Division.

“There are several versions so very sketchy as of now kaya ang NBI ay ni-request ko na sila na mag-imbestiga para ma-uphold natin ‘yong impartiality, mailabas ‘yong facts at mabigyan ng histisya ‘yong apat na sundalong namatay,” Sobejana said.

Sobejana called on the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to investigate what really happened.

“I also requested the NBI to investigate to ensure impartiality. We don’t want any escalation of hostilities out of the incident. Our interest is to know the facts and justice is given,” he said.

“Ang sigurado lang, itong apat na sundalo ay ginagawa nila ‘yong kanilang trabaho as reported by 11th infantry division,” he added.

In a statement on Monday evening, Sobejana said, “We are yet to establish the motive of the police.”

Very unfortunate

In a statement, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana called the incident “very unfortunate.”

“Very unfortunate incident. No additional comment muna while inquiry is ongoing. Very hazy pa dumadating na report — incident report pa lang. The NBI in Zamboanga will conduct inquiry,” Lorenzana said.


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