Army says sorry to widows of police killed in Samar misencounter

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TACLOBAN CITY — The Philippine Army’s 8th Infantry Division (8th ID) has apologized to the families of the six policemen killed in the recent “misencounter” in Sta. Rita, Samar, assuring full cooperation in the ongoing investigation.

In a letter issued Saturday, 8th ID commander Major Gen. Raul Farnacio vowed to help “expedite the conduct of the investigation so that the truth will be established and ease the burden of sorrow of the bereaved families.”

“We will be objective and transparent to shed light on the incident and will make appropriate actions thereafter to those who will be proven to have committed any lapses or violated established rules and regulations,” Farnacio said.

The region’s top military official assured that they will cooperate in the investigation being done by the Board of Inquiry, composed of personnel from the Armed Forces of the Philippines general headquarters, Philippine Army headquarters, and the 8th ID.

At least six junior police officers were killed and nine others were wounded in a “misencounter” in Sitio Lunoy, San Roque village, Sta. Rita town on June 25.

Both groups were conducting simultaneous combat operations against the New People’s Army in Sta. Rita. The 20-minute gun battle was stopped after soldiers got a call that they were fighting law enforcers.

In a media interview, the soldier’s team leader, 1st Lt. Orlando Casipit Jr., maintained that it was an accident since they were unaware of the presence of patrolling policemen.

Killed were Police Officers 1 Wyndell Noromor, Edwin Ebrado, Phil Rey Mendigo, Julius Suarez, Rowell Reyes, and Julie Escalo.

Wounded were PO1s Elmer Pan, Cris Angelo Pialago, Romulo Cordero, Joenel Gonzaga, Rey Barbosa, Roden Goden, Jaime Galoy, Rommel Bagunas, and Jonmark Adones.

PO3 Jessie Escalo, brother of P01 Julie’s, said Friday night that what the Army did is unacceptable. “We want justice to be served because it was an ambush incident and not a chance encounter,” he said.

All six families rejected the flowers offered by the Philippine Army during the wake at the PNP regional office, saying it was an “insult” to accept it.

President Rodrigo Duterte visited the wake Friday afternoon and told family members that it was all his fault and not to hold grudges against the army.

After the President’s visit, the bodies of the six slain cops were transported to their respective hometowns. (PNA)