(3rd UPDATE) – Sulu cops shot dead 4 soldiers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Monday afternoon, June 29, following an alleged confrontation and a chase in the capital Jolo – a version that the military is disputing.
What the police said: According to the initial report from Sulu police, Jolo municipal cops and a policeman assigned to the Sulu Provincial Drug Enforcement Unit spotted a Gray Montero SUV boarded by 4 men at around 2:40 pm on Monday.
The 4 men introduced themselves as members of the AFP. Suspecting them, the cops stopped their vehicle and ordered them to go to the Jolo police station “for verification.”
After arriving at the station, however, the 4 men suddenly fled towards the direction of Barangay San Raymundo in the same city, the police report said.
The 4 men eventually stopped then disembarked, allegedly armed.
“The said persons lifted and pointed their firearms towards PNP personnel, However, before they could pull the trigger, the PNP personnel were able to shoot them in defense,” the report read.
The 4 died on the spot. They have not been identified.
What the military said: In a phone interview with Rappler, AFP Western Mindano Command chief Lieutenant General Cirilito Sobejana gave a different narration of the incident.
According to him, the soldiers were "doing their work" aboard their SUV when they were "fired upon" by the Sulu cops.
The 4 fallen soldiers were a major, a captain, a sergeant, and a corporal – all from an intelligence unit of the Philippine Army, Sobejana said.
The military general called on the National Bureau of Investigation to step in to conduct an impartial probe on the incident.
Asked for his reaction, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said it was a "very unfortunate incident." He declined further comment, saying reports on hand were "very hazy," and the NBI in Zamboanga would conduct an inquiry.
Rappler has sought comment and clarification from the PNP through its spokesman Brigadier General Bernard Banac, but he has yet to reply as of posting. – Rappler.com
JC Gotinga often reports about the West Philippine Sea, the communist insurgency, and terrorism as he covers national defense and security for Rappler. He enjoys telling stories about his hometown, Pasig City. JC has worked with Al Jazeera, CNN Philippines, News5, and CBN Asia.
Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.