MANILA - Sen. Panfilo Lacson on Wednesday told Army officials to temper their emotions over the killing of 4 soldiers in Sulu, saying that terrorists and armed insurgents may "exploit" the issue.
Military officials have decried how policemen shot dead 4 soldiers who were going after Abu Sayyaf terrorists in the province.
"While I can easily relate to Philippine Army Commanding General Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay and understand how he feels about the Army officers slain in Sulu, emotions running high at this point is the last thing they need," Lacson, a former Philippine National Police chief, said in a statement.
Gapay earlier described the incident as "murder" and called for the sacking of Sulu's police chief after the incident.
"For all they know, their common enemies such as the terrorists and armed insurgents are already celebrating the Sulu incident - and even making plans to exploit it," he said.
Lacson said "enemies of the State" are "very capable of fanning the flames of animosity" between the military and the police.
They are capable of "creating intrigues to further divide the country's two major security forces," the senator said, and claimed that several groups have been "sowing disinformation" about the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 and the National ID system.
"Ultimately, decisiveness, not divisiveness, is needed in dealing with the enemies of the State and the Filipino people," he said.
Opposition Sen. Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan, meanwhile, has urged the Senate to investigate the case "to shed light on the incident and give justice to the victims."
"This incident is disturbing because it appears that the police are quick in pulling the trigger without careful judgment. If they can do this to their fellow uniformed men, how much more to the ordinary civilians who are unarmed and defenseless?" Pangilinan said.
"We should be going after the common enemy -- terrorists, drug lords, armed groups, and in this time of the pandemic, COVID -- not against each other," he said.
The National Bureau of Investigation earlier said that at least two eyewitnesses have provided their accounts of the incident.
Three of the four bodies have also been "processed" by the NBI's forensic team, the agency's spokesperson said.