CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – A soldier opened fire at his fellow soldiers, killing four of them as they slept in one of the barracks of an Army camp in Barangay Patag in Cagayan de Oro after midnight on Saturday, February 11.
Major Francisco Garillo Jr., spokesperson of the 4th Infantry Division, said the suspect, Army Private Johmar Villabito, was eventually overpowered and killed by his fellow soldiers after wounding one more.
An inquiry team has been set up by Major General Wilbur Mamawag, 4th ID commander, to investigate the circumstances that led to the tragic event.
Garillo said Villabito entered the barracks and fired at his fellow soldiers using his government-issued M16 rifle at approximately 1:10 am.
The victims, Sergeant Rogelio Rojo, Corporal Bernard Rodrigo, Private 1st Class Prince Kevin Balaba, and Private Joseph Tamayo, were killed instantly.
The military said Staff Sergeant Braulio Macalos was wounded in the attack.
According to Garillo, the suspect then attempted to find other soldiers sleeping in the barracks. But other the soldiers were already awakened by the gunshots and were prepared for Villabito’s arrival.
Initial investigation showed that Privates Mark Anthony Aguinid and Private 1st Class Joseph Estrada faced Villabito and shot and killed him during a struggle.
Staff Sergeant Macalos was declared out of danger and is recovering at the Camp Evangelist Station Hospital.
In a statement, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) confirmed the shooting tragedy, adding that the Army was already looking into the incident.
“We commiserate with the families of our deceased soldiers as we also pray for the safe recovery of the critically wounded personnel now being treated at Camp Evangelista Station Hospital,” the AFP said.
“Likewise, we have already directed the Philippine Army to conduct a thorough investigation and implement measures that will prevent the recurrence of similar incidents in the future,” it added.
The Army, in a separate statement, said the 4ID had already notified the police to also probe the incident even as it conducts its own investigation. It also noted that the Army division was already in the process of notifying the families of the soldiers involved in the tragedy.
“This is an isolated case. The Army is conducting its internal investigation to identify what triggered this incident and to identify gaps in our recruitment and training process in order for us to prevent similar incidents in the future,” the Army added.
Earlier this month, Army chief Lieutenant General Romeo Brawner Jr. expressed concern about the rising cases of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD among soldiers.
Brawner said the Army was setting up a unit of psychologists to help soldiers who are suffering from the anxiety disorder caused by stressful and distressing events. – Rappler.com
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