AFP spokesperson, Marine Maj. Gen. Edgard Arevalo. (File photo)

MANILA – There is no indication that the four slain soldiers traded gunfire with members of the Jolo Municipal Police Station (MPS) in Sulu on Monday, a ranking official of the Armed of the Philippines (AFP) said Tuesday.

“Kung makikita natin yung mga larawan ay makikita natin na yung mga sundalo ay malapit dun sa sasakyan at yung isa ay naroon pa sa loob at ang initial na impormasyon natin ay pinaputukan itong mga sundalo habang sila ay nakasakay dun sa kanilang vehicle, except of course si Major (Marvin) Indammog na nakababa pa at nakipag-usap dun sa mga PNP (Philippine National Police) (If we will look at the pictures, we will see that the soldiers are near the vehicle and one of them is inside. Our initial information says the soldiers were fired upon while they were inside the vehicle, except of course for Maj. Marvin Indamog who was able to disembark and talk with the members of the PNP),” AFP spokesperson Marine Maj. Gen. Edgard Arevalo, said in an interview with CNN Philippines.

Indammog is the commander of the 9th Intelligence Service Unit (9ISU), an intelligence-gathering unit of the military. Also killed with him were Capt. Irwin Managuelod, Sgt. Jaime Velasco and Cpl. Abdal Asula.

When asked again to clarify if there was an exchange of gunfire between the soldiers and police, Arevalo said there was none as per reports reaching the military.

“Yun aspeto na bumaba si Major Indammog at kung meron pang sumunod na bumaba sa kanyang mga kasamahan could be a matter of fact na lalabas sa imbestigasyon (The aspect of Major Indammog alighting from the vehicle and whether there is one among his companions who also alighted from the vehicle could be a matter of fact which will come out in the investigation). What I’m relating to you ay kung ano lamang ang pagkaunawa dito sa atin dun sa pakikipag-usap natin kay (is our understanding of the situation based on our talks with) (Major) Gen. (Corleto) Vinluan (11th Infantry Division and Joint Task Force Sulu commander),” he added.

The PNP and the AFP have agreed that the National Bureau of Investigation regional office in Zamboanga City will conduct and lead the investigation to ensure impartiality and eliminate any suspicion of undue influence.

In a report, the Sulu Provincial Police Office said around 2 p.m. on Monday, police officers from the Jolo MPS flagged the four soldiers onboard a sports utility vehicle while manning a checkpoint at the town proper.

The police officers apprehended them and instructed them to proceed to the Jolo MPS for verification.

However, the troops allegedly fled towards Barangay San Raymundo and were chased by the police officers.

Fallen soldiers honored

Meanwhile, three of the four slain soldiers were given military arrival honors at Villamor Airbase, Pasay City on Tuesday afternoon.

In a statement, Col. Ramon Zagala, Philippine Army (PA) spokesperson, said the remains of Indammog, Managuelod, and Valesco were received by Army commander Lt. Gen. Gilbert I. Gapay, their families and comrades.

Meanwhile, Asula’s burial rites will be held in Sulu.

“Today, we honor and remember their sacrifices for the country. We mourn and condole with their bereaved families and we ensure that the necessary assistance will be given to them,” Gapay said.

The four were tailing terrorist suicide bombers in Jolo, Sulu when the incident happened.

“This tragedy imposed a great loss for our pursuit of peace in the Sulu region. The PA is strongly demanding for an impartial investigation to get to the bottom of this without any intention to create animosity between the Army and the PNP. However, we are professional organization and we will not let this pass. The Army seeks that justice be served for our fallen heroes,” Gapay said. (PNA)

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