The Philippine National Police (PNP) admitted Tuesday that the encounter in Jolo, Sulu, that killed four Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) soldiers is a misencounter, spokesman Police Brigadier General Bernard Banac said.
Banac noted in a television interview that the incident taught the entire police force a big lesson, citing PNP would implement measures so the unfortunate event would not happen again.
“Yes, we consider it as misencounter, a case where our cops might not have been able to identify properly those soldiers are our colleagues… This is really just an unfortunate incident… for maybe lack of proper identification and lack of communication between and among ourselves,” Banac told CNN.
“This thing could have been prevented. This is a big lesson for us. We will take this seriously, so this won’t happen again,” Banac added.
Banac added that the PNP would fully cooperate with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on its investigation of the incident. The probe would determine why did the Sulu cops decided to fire shots at the soldiers, he added.
“We have to determine was there really a threat against their lives and the sequence of events that figured this incident. As we know, the situation in Sulu is very tense and AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines] and PNP are both cooperating against the threat in terrorism. We have to look at the overall picture,” he explained.
Banac said the number of police officers involved in the Jole misecounter was still undetermined.
AFP earlier said the four soldiers were on an intelligence mission to determine the location of reported suicide bombers under the group of Mundi Sawajaan in coordination with Joint-Task Force Sulu and the 11th Infantry Division in Jolo.
Army commander Lieutenant General Gilbert Gapay on Tuesday said that according to witnesses, the killed soldiers did not do anything to provoke the involved Sulu cops.
“Based on eyewitness accounts, no altercation transpired between the two parties, nor was there any provocation on the part of Army personnel to warrant such carnage,” he said in a press statement.
“Furthermore, no agents from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency are involved, and this is not an anti-drug operation,” Gapay added.