MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte vowed Monday to serve justice to the family of slain soldiers killed in the hands of policemen in rebel stronghold Jolo town, Sulu.
Duterte said he grieves for his fallen men and "hopes that this isolated incident will not spark any animosity" between soldiers and policemen.
"As your Commander-in-Chief and as President of the Republic of the Philippines, I assure you that I will see to it that the truth will come out be it in favor of the police or the military. Ang hinihingi ko lang ang totoong nangyari," he said in a speech before soldiers aired Tuesday.
(I'm just asking for what truly happened.)
"So you can rest assured that justice will be done to the family at sa mga tao dito sa --- ang mga tropa dito sa Jolo (and to the troops here in Jolo)."
Duterte said he has ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to look into the incident which occurred as soldiers pursued members of the Abu Sayyaf.
"Kaya ang magarantiya ko sa iyo na ang totoo lalabas at lalabas at lalabas in fairness to the Tausug, policemen and to the soldiers who died. Kaya lang wala tayong option eh. Hindi natin ‘to puwedeng taguin, hindi natin puwedeng laruan ito kasi hindi maganda ang labas," he said.
(I can guarantee that the truth will come out in fairness to the Tausug, policemen and to the soldiers who died. We have no option. We can't cover this, we can't play this because it won't come out well.)
"Iyong mga bagay na hindi natin akalain na mangyari ay nangyayari. We don’t have the answer for that. We know that there is a certain hatred or anger there, or if there is none, then a misunderstanding that led to the shooting."
(Things we don't expect to happen, happens.)
The Philippine Army has described the incident as "murder" as it said the soldiers identified themselves at a police checkpoint and complied with the cops' request to stop by the police station.
Police earlier said the soldiers, who were not wearing their uniform and were on board a sports utility vehicle, sped past a checkpoint. They allegedly pointed their guns at policemen, which prompted the shooting.
The 9 policemen involved in the soldiers' death have been transferred to the national police headquarters in Camp Crame, Quezon City for NBI's probe.