President Rodrigo Duterte has urged soldiers not to lose sight of the “real enemy” as he appealed to government forces to remain calm amid an ongoing investigation of a shooting involving police officers that led to the killing of four troops in Jolo, Sulu in southern Mindanao early this week.
In his speech during his visit to the Edwin Andrews Air Base in Zamboanga City on Friday, Duterte told the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to direct its attention to targeting the New People’s Army (NPA) and the Abu Sayyaf Group instead of the Philippine National Police (PNP).
“Ako dito pumunta (I went here) to make a plea. I am pleading for your understanding at saka pakalmahin mo ang mga tropa (and to calm down the troops). Explain to them their role in the society that the real enemy is itong mga NPA pati itong mga Abu Sayyaf (the NPA and the Abu Sayyaf),” according to Duterte, commander-in-chief of both the military and the police.
The President said soldiers should not cultivate the animosity or even the hate they were feeling toward the police in wake of the Jolo incident.
“Nakita ko na hindi nga maganda (I saw that the situation looks ugly). And it has generated so much, maybe hatred, and so much animosity between the two units, the PNP pati ang (and the) Armed Forces of the Philippines, which is not good because, in the end, it would be the people who will bear the brunt,” the President said.
“There is now this raging feeling of, maybe hate, which is really a dangerous thing to nurture. It does not do us any good,” he added.
The President asked the soldiers not to retaliate against the police even though he understood what they were feeling.
“Hindi ko kayo mapigilan. Kung gusto niyo gumanti, kung gusto niyo mag-resbak (I cannot stop you. If you want to take revenge), go ahead, I will not stop you. But also at the end of the day, just give me one answer. Did the country benefit from furthering the violence?” Duterte said.
“You want to take revenge? For what? Gusto mo pumatay ng pulis (You want to kill policemen)? For what? Would it make the four officers come back to life?” he added.
Duterte said while he was “very sad” and “angry” about the incident, it would be better for both the AFP and the PNP to just await results of the investigation by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
“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),” he noted.
Four members of an Army intelligence unit were tailing reported suicide bombers affiliated with the Abu Sayyaf Group in Jolo on Monday when they were allegedly shot dead by PNP officers.
Gunned down 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.
At least nine police officers who were part of a team that was reportedly involved in the killing of the four soldiers were removed from their posts.
They are SMS Abdelzhimar Padjiri, MSg. Hanie U Baddiri, SSg. Almudzrin Hadjaruddin, SSg. Iskandar Susulan, SSg. Ernisar Sappal, Pat. Alkajal Mandangan, Pat. Rajiv Putalan, Pat. Mohammad Nur Pasan, and Cpl. Sulki Andaki.
They were disarmed and placed under the custody of the Sulu police.
Duterte guaranteed that the nine policemen would be held accountable if probe results showed that they committed a mistake in the 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.