MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday said the death of 6 police officers in a misencounter with soldiers in Villareal, Samar on Monday was not intentional.
“Nobody wants it, what happens there is the Murphy’s Law — if anything can go wrong, it will go wrong,” Duterte said in a speech during the oath-taking of 1,904 newly elected Zamboanga Peninsula barangay captains in Zamboanga del Sur.
Duterte said he would like to visit the wake of the slain police officers together with the Philippine Army to “show camaraderie” among government troops.
“Hindi naman sinadya ‘yan eh (It was unintentional),” Duterte said.
A platoon of soldiers was patrolling a remote village in Villarreal town on Monday morning when they mistook a group of police officers as communist New People's Army (NPA) rebels, the military had said.
Six policemen were killed in the incident.
Military spokesperson Col. Edgard Arevalo said authorities are investigating whether or not the deadly misencounter was due to a lack of coordination.
Arevalo said that the soldiers' first instinct is to fire at armed men they encounter in highly vegetated areas.
Police, he said, also returned fire during Monday's misencounter.
Nine others wounded in the incident are still in the hospital, said Arevalo.
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.