MANILA - The Philippine National Police on Thursday said it is investigating whether or not soldiers ambushed its officers in Villarreal, Samar, triggering a firefight that killed 6 policemen.
The soldiers were patrolling the jungles of Villareal for 5 or 6 days and were in a vantage point when the clash erupted, noted PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde.
"Titingnan po talaga kung iyan ay ambush o hindi," he told radio DZMM.
(We are looking into whether or not this was an ambush.)
Investigators, he added, were checking reports that the first fatalities died of sniper shots.
Initial reports said both the police and military were pursuing communist New People's Army (NPA) guerrillas in the areas.
The soldiers, sensing danger, reportedly moved to higher ground, mistook the policemen as NPA rebels, and opened fire.
Maj. Gen. Raul Farnacio, commander of the Army’s 8th Infantry Division, has denied that the incident was an ambush.
The police and military have formed boards of inquiry to look into the incident, particularly the level of coordination that soldiers and policemen made before the encounter, said Albayalde.
Two of 9 policemen wounded in the incident have been discharged from the hospital. The rest were still confined but out of danger, he added.
The NPA has been fighting the government for nearly 5 decades. More than 40,000 have been killed in the insurgency and economic growth in resource-rich areas has been stunted. With a report from Reuters