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‘Misencounter’ with cops in Sulu a ‘misstep’ for Philippine Army — Army spox

/ 10:27 AM July 01, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — “How can their leaders let this happen?”

The spokesperson of the Philippine Army said this on Wednesday as he called the alleged misencounter between police officers and soldiers in Sulu a “misstep” for the Philippine Army in its operation against Abu Sayyaf terrorists in the province.

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Army spokesman Col. Ramon Zagala said the military in the province should have been working on tracking Mundi Sawadjaan and his cohorts, but this was held back by the unfortunate incident with the police on June 29 that led to the deaths of four soldiers. Mundi Sawadjaan is the nephew of Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan, the ISIS-linked subleader of the Abu Sayyaf.

“This is really a misstep. Instead of our operatives working on looking for Sawadjaan and his cohorts, this is really a step back. We have to recalibrate and continue the operation some other time while we mourn the death of our operatives,” he said in an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel.

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“Of course we can also get other experts and intel officers but this loss is really big to us, and [since it happened] at the hands of our own colleagues, our own friendly forces, the PNP, it really saddens us,” he added.

Zagala said the Philippine Army is “perplexed” at the actions of the police officers involved in the incident, citing that the Philippine National Police has long been the military’s partner in most operations, especially against terrorism.

He added that the soldiers speaking in Tagalog as they identified themselves should have sent a signal to the police officers that they are not from Sulu and are not local terrorists.

“We are saddened by this and we are not generalizing the whole PNP, just this incident. How can their leaders let this happen? There is something wrong, especially in their procedures, in the way they communicate,” said Zagala.

The Army spokesperson then said the PNP should look into how its personnel on the ground conduct threat analysis and situational awareness when using firearms, which he said were not practiced by the police officers involved in the incident.

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TAGS: abu sayyaf, Philippine Army, Ramon Zagala, Sulu
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