By Daniel Llanto

In a speech before the military in Zamboanga City, Duterte acknowledged the Jolo incident “caused a fraction both in the Army and the PNP (Philippine National Police).”

When asked about why Duterte looked ill in Zamboanga City, Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the president was just emotional and saddened by the deaths of four soldiers in a shooting involving Jolo police.

Duterte repeatedly pleaded with Philippine Army soldiers to avoid avenging the death of Maj. Marvin Indammog, Capt. Irwon Managuelod, Sgt. Jaime Velasco and Cpl. Abdal Asula of the Army’s 9th Intelligence Service Unit at the hands of Jolo policemen.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Gen. Felimon Santos Jr. aired the same appeal on July 6 for Philippine Army soldiers not to even entertain the idea of avenging the death of their comrades shot by policemen in Jolo, Sulu.

Military commanders have also been instructed to remind their troops that resorting to retaliation is not the right thing to do and will not do them any good.

The tension between the PNP and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) stemmed from an incident involving local police in Sulu who killed the four-man team from the Army’s Intelligence Service Unit last week.

Earlier, a retired military man was shot dead by a police officer at a checkpoint in Quezon City.   Police MSgt, Daniel Florendo Jr. shot Winston Ragos to ignited talks of a long-standing grudge between police and military.

Observers suggest that soldiers begrudge the fact that the campaign against illegal drugs was exclusively assigned to police. The police, on the other hand, supposedly look down on soldiers most of whom entered the military service without a college education.

AFP spokesman Maj. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said the chiefs of the AFP and the Philippine National Police (PNP) have already spoken with each other and have agreed to let the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) conduct a deep, independent, and separate probe of the incident.

Arevalo told radio station dzBB in an interview that such investigation is needed “for us to know what really happened and that justice will be served in the killing of our fellow soldiers.”

Arevalo added that both the military and the police should continue facing the real enemy, the suspected terrorists or suicide bombers who were the subjects of the mission of the intelligence operation being conducted by the four soldiers when they were killed.

Vice-president Leni Robredo also called on authorities to ensure justice for the slain soldiers to preclude any outbreak of violence between the police and military. Robredo visited the wake of three of the four slain soldiers.

Ensuring that the persons involved in the killing of the soldiers would be made accountable could help lessen the tension between the military and the police in Jolo, according to the Vice-president.

In his speech before troops in Zamboanga City, Duterte asked soldiers to keep calm in the wake of the incident.

“You want to take revenge? For what?  Gusto ko ring pumatay ng pulis.  For what? Would it make the four officers come back to life?” the President said.

With regard to the Jolo incident, Interior Sec. Eduardo Año said one of the nine policemen tagged in the killing of soldiers in Sulu tested positive in the rapid test for the coronavirus.  Año said the policeman, whom he did not identify, underwent a rapid test as a precautionary measure before meeting Duterte.

Año said Duterte was empathic and emotional during the meeting with the policemen when he assured them of due process.