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AFP chief vows heads will roll over Samar 'misencounter'

Published June 27, 2018 4:13pm By MARLLY ROME BONDOC, GMA News Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Carlito Galvez Jr. on Wednesday vowed that heads will roll over the "misencounter" between Army troops and police operatives in Samar that left six cops killed and nine others wounded. Galvez said officials involved will be relieved from their posts if investigation shows there were lapses during the operation.

"'Pag nakita natin may lapses din...justice will be done. 'Yun ang promise namin," Galvez said when asked if there would be military officials who will be removed from their posts.

The Philippine National Police has already administratively relieved two police officials from their posts following the "misecounter."

Superintendent Glen Oliver Cinco, officer-in-charge of the Regional Mobile Force Battalion (RMFB) 8 and Chief Inspector Don Archie Suspeñe, commander of the 805th Mobile Company, RMFB 8 have been relieved from their posts to give way to an impartial investigation.

Suspeñe led the operating elements of the police force who were conducting minor combat operations on Monday at around 9:27 a.m. when they were fired upon by elements of the Philippine Army's 87th Infantry Battalion in Sitio Lunoy, Barangay San Roque in Santa Rita, Samar.

The 16 Army personnel involved in the incident were all accounted for and under investigation, according to Galvez, noting that they have already been disarmed.

The firearms of the said personnel will be subjected to a ballistic test.

Both the AFP and PNP chiefs said that the "level of coordination" between the two forces are still the subject of the ongoing investigation. Albayalde said they "cannot speculate" on what really transpired.

"Hindi natin alam how they coordinated. Puwedeng verbal 'yan, puwedeng through sulat. Depende nga eh. We will see that on the board of inquiry kung paano ang coordination na ginawa," Albayalde said.

Asked whether it was really impossible to identify the police operatives during the encounter, Albayalde explained that it could be possible as enemies of the state also use the same uniform of the policemen or soldiers.

"You know ang enemy natin, they also wore the same uniform. Dapat maintindihan ng tao 'yan. That's part of their tactics, diversionary tactics. They also wear the uniform," he said.

"Especially in places like this, madalas, even during our times. Kung ano 'yung suot ng AFP tsaka PNP, 'yun din ang suot nila. Kung ano ang armas nila kung minsan, 'yun din ang armas nila," he added.

Philippine Army's 8th Infantry Division commander Major General Raul Farnacio on Tuesday said Army troopers who were located on high ground were not able to recognize the police operatives, whom they thought were communist rebels, as their uniforms were already "muddy."

"'Yung Army units na occupied 'yung high ground nagpaputok initially but 'yung return fire malakas, so that started...Pinakuha ko rin 'yung mga firearms ng mga Army, if there is excessive, pero that will be [part of the] conduct of investigation," Farnacio said during the joint press briefing of the AFP and PNP in Leyte.

Both government forces were 50 to 70 meters away from each other, noting that the area was highly "vegetated" making it more difficult to distinguish who they were up against, said Farnacio.

Farnacio said the firefight allegedly lasted for 20 minutes after the police operatives have returned fire.


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