Army Spokesperson Col. Ramon Zagala: “We welcome the development from the PNP.” (File photo)

MANILA – The Philippine Army (PA) on Thursday welcomed the statement of the Philippine National Police ruling out the claim of misencounter in the fatal shooting of four military intelligence officers in Jolo, Sulu last June 29.

“We welcome the development from the PNP. We are both professional organizations and we are one in seeking the truth so justice may be served,” Army spokesperson Col. Ramon Zagala said in a message to the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

PNP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac said Wednesday they have determined it to be a shooting incident after analysis of reports show that the soldiers did not fire a single shot at the nine police officers.

“Nais din natin bigyang linaw ang naunang pahayag na umano ay merong misencounter… ayon sa ating pag-aanalisa ng report na unang nailabas at officially released spot report ay nakita natin na wala namang paggamit or pagpapaputok ng baril mula sa mga namatay na sundalo. Ang nakalagay lamang doon ay umamba umano, kaya yaon ang naging response ng ating Jolo Municipal Personnel, batay sa pag-aaral na ‘yan makikita natin na hindi na ito misencounter ito ay isang shooting incident (We would like to clarify that the earlier statement of a supposed misencounter… according to analysis of reports earlier released and officially released spot report, we saw that there was no shooting that occurred on the part of the soldiers. According to the analysis of the report we can see that it was not a misencounter but a shooting incident),” Banac said in a message to reporters.

PNP Chief Gen. Archie Gamboa assured that the incident would not affect the working relationship between the PNP and the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

“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.

Gamboa appealed for calm in the midst of speculations and misrepresentation of facts hounding the “most unfortunate” incident.

Communication and coordination, he said, are key factors in the success or failure of every military or police action.

“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 said.

“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,” he added.

Meanwhile, Zagala said the Army supports the decision of President Rodrigo Duterte to talk with the nine police officers involved in the shooting.

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is already looking into the incident involving the police and the military.

Both Zagala and Gamboa welcomed the probe, saying the two organizations want truth and justice.

“We leave the determination of motive to the NBI. We would not want to preempt their investigation,” Zagala said. “What’s important to the Army is we find out the truth and give justice to our fallen soldiers.”

Gamboa said: “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. Let the axe fall where it may for the sake of truth and justice.”

Killed in Monday’s incident in Jolo, Sulu were Maj. Marvin A. Indammog, 39; Capt. Irwin B. Managuelod, 33; Sgt. Jaime M. Velasco, 38; and Cpl. Abdal Asula, 33. The four were tailing four terrorist suicide bombers when the shooting happened.

Meanwhile, all nine police officers involved in the incident are now placed under the custody of the provincial police headquarters in Jolo.

They are S/Sgt. Almudzrin Hadjaruddin, Pat. Alkajal Mandangan, Pat. Rajiv Putalan, Senior M/Sgt. Abdelzhimar Padjiri, M/Sgt. Hanie U Baddiri, S/Sgt. Iskandar Susulan, S/Sgt. Ernisar Sappal, Cpl. Sulki Andaki, and Pat. Mohammad Nur Pasani. (PNA)