MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte treats the deaths of four soldiers gunned down by police officers in Jolo, Sulu as a personal loss, Malacañang said on Monday.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made this remark after observers noticed that Duterte looked low-spirited, even sickly, during his speech at the Edwin Andrews Air Base in Zamboanga City last Friday where he appealed to soldiers to stay calm, and discouraged them from taking revenge against the police for the killing of four of their comrades.
Duterte’s Zamboanga City visit was the first time he met with government troops since the country was hit by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
“Talagang he took it very personal itong nangyari po sa Jolo kaya nga po nangako rin siya na bibigyan po ng katarungan (He really took what happened in Jolo as a personal loss which is why he promised that justice would be served),” he said in a virtual presser.
Roque, however, allayed concerns over Duterte’s health, saying he was not suffering from any condition but was simply “emotional” over the four soldiers’ deaths.
“That’s not health-related, it’s more of an emotional issue,” he said.
He compared Duterte’s feeling to that of a father grieving the loss of his own child, noting that his voice was cracking while delivering his speech.
“Matamlay talaga siya dahil talagang kusang malungkot. Para siyang ama na namatayan ng anak (He is really low-spirited because he is sad. He’s like a father who lost a son),” he said.
Meanwhile, he also appealed to wait for the results of the investigation of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) into the alleged “misencounter” between members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in Jolo, Sulu.
“Hayaan muna natin mag-imbestiga ang NBI dahil siya ho mismo ang naging parang pinaka apektado bukod pa po sa pamilya ng mga namatayan (Let us wait for the results of the investigation of the NBI because the President himself is the most affected by their deaths besides their families),” he said.
In his speech last Friday, Duterte acknowledged that the incident has created animosity between the AFP and PNP, “which is not good because, in the end, it would be the people (who) will bear the brunt of all these things”.
He told the military not to hold a grudge against the police as “there is a more important task to do and that is to protect the people of the Philippines”.
Killing police officers will not bring their four comrades back to life, he added.
He also told both the military and the police to wait for the result of the investigation being conducted by the NBI, which will be made public “so that everybody will understand the situation”.
Four members of an Army intelligence unit were tailing reported suicide bombers affiliated with the Abu Sayyaf group in Jolo, Sulu last June 29 when they were shot dead by PNP officers.
Killed in the incident were Maj. Marvin Indammog, Capt. Irwin Managuelod, Sgt. Jaime Velasco, and Cpl. Abdal Asula. (PNA)