By Manny Mogato, News5 editor-at-large
(June 30, 2020) — An enraged army chief has demanded an impartial investigation into the killing of four soldiers on a mission to track down suspected bombers in a volatile southern island, a military spokesman said on Tuesday.
Lieutenant General Gilbert Gapay said an independent law enforcement agency must look into the killing by a group of police officers of a four-member intelligence team of the 11th Infantry Division in Jolo.
“There will be no let up in our quest for truth and justice,” said Gapay.
“The soldiers were on a mission to identify the location of known terrorists in the area.”
Based on eyewitness accounts, spokesman Colonel Ramon Zagala said there was no altercation between the two parties nor was there any provocation on the part of the soldiers.
An army major, a captain and two senior enlisted men were shot dead without provocation in broad daylight in a busy road in Jolo town on Monday, he added.
Zagala also disputed an official police report about an anti-drug operations at the time of the incident.
“There were no agents from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency involved and this is not an anti-drug operation,” he said.
On Monday, a military intelligence team aboard a sport utility vehicle was hot on the trail of Abu Sayyaf members, bomb makers, and suicide bombers in Sulu province.
They were flagged down by personnel of Jolo Municipal Police Station who were manning a checkpoint in Jolo town proper.
Even after properly identifying themselves as soldiers, the police lapproached and fired upon them for still unknown reasons.
The police officers involved in the incident have been taken into custody pending investigation.
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