By Sarwell Meniano
TACLOBAN CITY, 25 June 2018— Six junior police officers were killed while nine others were wounded in a misencounter Monday morning between patrolling cops and soldiers in San Roque village, Sta. Rita, Samar, the Philippine Army reported.
Army’s 8th Infantry Division spokesperson, Capt. Francis Agno, said 17 soldiers of the 87th Infantry Battalion based in Calbiga, Samar “incidentally engaged” in a clash with a team from the 805th Company of the Philippine National Police Regional Mobile Force Battalion.
Both teams were conducting patrol in Sitio (subvillage) Lunoy, San Roque village past 9 a.m.
“After the skirmishes, 1st Lt. Orlando Casipit, Jr. and his troops discovered that the unit involved in the encounter belongs to the PNP unit under Chief Insp. Don Arhie Suspiñe who also operated on the same location,” Agno said in a statement issued late Monday night.
Killed and wounded during the encounter are all junior police officers of one of the PNP’s elite force trained in anti-insurgency operations. No one was hurt from the military.
“A joint, thorough and impartial investigation is being conducted even as we assure the public that your Army and PNP are fully cooperating to shed light on the incident,” said Major Gen. Raul Farnacio, commander of Army’s 8th Infantry division.
“The whole 8ID family extend our condolences to the bereaved families of those who died in the armed engagement. Rest assured that this unfortunate incident will not hamper the working relation of your Army and PNP in the region.” Farnacio added.
The casualties have been identified but the names are yet to be officially released pending notification of their next of kin.
The PNP Eastern Visayas regional office has not yet issued any statement on the incident.
Sta. Rita has been identified as one of the areas in the region infested by the New People’s Army. The town is just 30 kilometers away from Tacloban, crossing the San Juanico Bridge.