Family of six cops killed by Army ‘friendly fire’ demand justice

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Six body bags await transportation in the aftermath of the bloody encounter. Picture via the Philippine News Agency.

The family members of the six cops killed after being mistaken for rebels want the soldiers involved to face charges.

Six police officers were killed and nine wounded in the gun battle between patrolling cops and soldiers in San Roque village, Santa Rita, yesterday morning (Monday, June 25).

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Jessie Escalo, the brother of one of the victims and himself a police officer, insisted that it was an ambush and not a “chance encounter” as claimed by the Army.

“They were attacked after resting for 20 minutes. It is impossible for the military not to recognise them since they were on standby on the same spot,” he said. He also urged top police officials to conduct a thorough investigation of the incident.

Philippine Army’s 8th Infantry Division Commander Major General Raul Farnacio said it was an accident and soldiers were unaware that they were policemen doing “regular minor operations”.

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“The location of the army is 75 metres from the policemen and the area is heavily vegetated. The soldiers have been there in the area for six days after receiving reports of sightings of 20 armed rebels,” he said in a press conference today.

Richiel Ebrado, the widow of a fallen cop, said it was more painful to learn that her husband was killed by government troops and not by enemies.

“We want to know what really happened and to attain justice. They’re on the same side, but why they did not recognise them?” she asked.

The killed cops were Phil J Rey Mendigo, Edwin P Ebrado, Wyndell S Noromor, Rowel Reyes, Julie Y Escalo and Julius R Suarez.

Both the Army and the police are now investigating the incident. 

Speaking today, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the government was ready to help those who needed assistance.

“All victims, wounded in an encounter with government forces will be taken care of by the government,” he said during a press briefing in Davao City.

Speaking at an oath taking of barangay officials in Zamboanga del Sur today, the president said: “Look at what happened yesterday. It was a misencounter. Nobody wants it.

“Actually, what happened there is Murphy’s Law. If anything can go wrong, it will go wrong.”

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