LIEUTENANT General Cirilito Sobejana, commander of the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), appealed to the public not to sensationalize the incident in Jolo, Sulu through social media or any other means so as not to heighten animosity.
Sobejana made the call has requested the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to conduct an impartial probe into the incident that saw the death of four soldiers, including two officials, on Monday, June 29, in Jolo, Sulu.
Major General Corleto Vinluan, commander of the Joint Task Force Sulu, confirmed that four soldiers, including two officers, of the Army Intelligence team, were shot dead by members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) while on board a private vehicle around 2:26 p.m. Monday in front of the fire station in Walled City village, Jolo, Sulu.
One of the two slain Army officers is a major and the commander of the 9th Intelligence Service Unit (ISU) and the other is a captain. The two enlisted men were ranked sergeant and corporal.
"We are yet to establish the motive of the police," Sobejana said.
"We don't want any escalation of hostilities out of the incident. Our interest is to know the facts and justice will be given," Sobejana said in seeking the NBI to conduct a probe into the incident.
The soldiers, in coordination with the Joint Task Force Sulu, were conducting surveillance in Jolo to locate the reported suicide bombers under the group of Abu Sayyaf leader Mundi Sawadjaan when the incident happened.
Police Staff Sergeant Abdel Haffeez Amin, the investigator of the case, said in his investigation report that the personnel of the Jolo Police Station and Provincial Drug Enforcement Unit (PDEU) were on patrol when they spotted a Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) with four armed male persons on board.
Amin said they accosted and directed the SUV to proceed to Jolo Police Station for verification.
"Upon arrival thereat, the said persons fled with the SUV towards Barangay Martirez and Barangay San Raymundo, Jolo, Sulu," Amin said.
He said the four persons with firearms disembarked from the SUV when policemen chased them.
"Subsequently, the said persons lifted and pointed their firearms towards the PNP 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 to the death of the four suspects," he added.
He, however, took note of the military statement in his investigation report that the victims were on intelligence operation to locate suicide bombers under the group of Abu Sayyaf leader Mundi Sawadjaan in coordination with the Joint Task Force Jolo.
"The soldiers already raised their hands and introduced themselves, but the cops kept on shooting," Vinluan pointed out.
"We will wait for the investigation to be completed," Sobejana added. (SunStar Zamboanga)