MANILA, Philippines — Despite presenting exceedingly different accounts of what happened, relations between the military and the national police remain unhampered in the aftermath of a shootout that left four ranking officials of the former dead.
In a statement issued Wednesday evening, Police Gen. Archie Gamboa, chief of the Philippine National Police, asked the public to remain calm amid what he called “speculation and misrepresentation of facts.”
“Our relationship is founded on a long shared history of cooperation and brotherhood. In fact, we are inter-operable in the field because we share the same roots and are fighting a common enemy,” Gamboa said.
“While the incident is most unfortunate, it should not undermine operational policies and established cooperation guidelines that we have relied on and trusted for years,” he added.
Much has been said about the shootout on Monday, though not much is clear. According to the military's Western Mindanao Command, the four were part of an intelligence unit gathering information on suicide bombers linked to the Abu Sayyaf group in the vicinity of Barangay Mauboh, Patikul.
The cops initially identified the four personnel as armed civilians inside a grey Mitsubishi Montero SUV. Reports are sketchy as to what happened after the policemen supposedly "accosted" the men in the van.
The country’s top cop surmised that misinformation was “possibly done on purpose [to] erode the police-military unity by driving a wedge between Sulu PNP and 11th ID, Philippine Army.”
Police in shooting restricted to HQ
The identified members of the Jolo Municipal Police Station and the Provincial Drug Enforcement Unit (PDEU) linked to the incident are:
- PSMS Abdelzhimar H Padjiri
- PMSg Hanie U Baddiri
- PSSg Iskandar I Susulan
- PSSg Ernisar P Sappal
- PCpl Sulki M Andaki
- Pat Moh. Nur E Pasani
- PSSg Almudzrin M Hadjaruddin
- Pat Alkajal J Mandangan
- Pat Rajiv G Putalan
All nine officers involved in that incident are now restricted to quarters at the Sulu Police Provincial Office in Jolo to ensure their availability to face investigation, he said, while their police-issued firearms have been surrendered to elements of the National Bureau of Investigation.
“The PNP is committed to determine the truth and rest assured that we will support and abide by the findings and recommendations of the NBI. I have complete faith in the competence and professionalism of NBI to establish the facts and answer all questions that will uncover the truth behind this tragedy,” Gamboa said.
"Let the axe fall where it may for the sake of truth and justice," he added.
In an earlier interview over CNN Philippines, Col. Ramon Zagala Jr., Army spokesperson, said that their troops did not engage the cops in a firefight, as originally claimed in police spot reports, since they "properly coordinated and identified themselves." He called the police spot report "fabricated" and "misleading."
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