SEARCH FOR THE TRUTH. The scene of the shooting incident in Jolo, Sulu on June 29, 2020. President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday (July 3, 2020) directed the National Bureau of Investigation to search for the truth as it began investigating the shooting incident involving police officers and soldiers in Jolo. (Photo courtesy of the Army Chief Public Affairs Office)

MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday directed the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to search for the truth as it began investigating the recent shooting incident involving cops and soldiers.

Duterte made the order when he delivered a speech before uniformed officers and personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) at the Edwin Andrews Air Base in Zamboanga City.

He said that while he was “very sad” and “angry” about the incident, it would be better for both the AFP and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to just await the results of the NBI investigation.

“May nakita akong mali. Nag-neutral na lang ako sa salita ko (I saw something wrong but I prefer to be neutral). But I have my own misgivings about the whole thing. But pending the (results) of the investigation of the NBI, we all must just keep our silence and I hope the NBI would find the truth for us. Trabaho nila yan (That’s their job),” Duterte said.

Four members of an Army intelligence unit were tailing reported suicide bombers affiliated with the Abu Sayyaf group in Jolo, Sulu on Monday when they were shot to death by PNP officers.

Killed in the shooting incident were Maj. Marvin Indammog, Capt. Irwin Managuelod, Sgt. Jaime Velasco, and Cpl. Abdal Asula.

Duterte assured the military that the NBI, once done with its probe, would make public its findings to make everyone “understand the situation.”

“And I’m sure they will not fail me. Kilala ko itong mga ‘to, sila (I know them). So sabi ko (I told them), get the truth. Huwag mong sobrahan, huwag mong kulangan, ‘yung totoo lang (No more, no less, just the truth) because it will save us the trouble,” he said.

Plea for understanding

Meanwhile, Duterte said he flew to Zamboanga City to ask for their understanding following the “misencounter” between the police and the military.

He made the appeal as he reminded them that such an incident could not be avoided.

“Mahal ko ang sundalo ko. Mahal ko rin ang pulis ko. Puro nagta-trabaho (I love my soldiers. I love my policemen as well. They are doing their jobs),” Duterte said. “Ang hinihingi ko na lang, yung understanding ninyo sa nangyari (I am only asking for your understanding following the incident).”

At least nine police officers who were part of a team that was reportedly involved in the killing of the four soldiers were relieved of their posts.

They are Staff Sgt. Almudzrin Hadjaruddin, Pat. Alkajal Mandangan, Pat. Rajiv Putalan, Senior Master Sgt. Abdelzhimar Padjiri, Master Sgt. Hanie U Baddiri, Staff Sgt. Iskandar Susulan, Staff Sgt. Ernisar Sappal, Cpl. Sulki Andaki, and Pat. Mohammad Nur Pasani.

They were disarmed and placed under the custody of the Sulu police.

Duterte guaranteed that the relieved cops would be held accountable if probe results show that they committed a mistake in the shooting incident.

“I’m giving you my word of honor that the investigation will proceed to find out the truth, unbridled by anybody. Walang makialam at yung totoo lang. ‘Yun ang maaasahan niyo (No one will interfere and we will stick to the truth. You can expect that). At kung sinuman ang may kasalanan (Whoever has committed a mistake), then he has to pay for it,” he said.

Help each other

For now, personnel of the AFP and PNP should help each other, Duterte said.

He reminded the military that they would need the police.

“We need the police diyan sa labas (there) because you take care of insurgency and the more serious problems of the country involving law and order. Itong mga pulis na ito (The police), they have the purpose there and we need them. The Republic of the Philippines needs them,” the President said.

Policemen, he said, would likewise need the help of soldiers.

“Police would also need you,” Duterte said. “Importanteng ma-imbestiga at (It’s important to investigate the incident and make sure) justice is rendered. But walain ninyo ang hatred kasi it has no place sa atin (But stop the hatred because it has no place in us). We cannot take revenge.”

He also told the government troops that the “real enemy” of the state are the New People’s Army (NPA) and the Abu Sayyaf group. (PNA)