MANILA - Policemen should have exercised maximum tolerance in the Jolo incident where 4 soldiers were killed by their comrades, the National Police Commission said Monday as it investigated the incident.
The soldiers were pursuing the trail of Abu Sayyaf bombmakers in the rebel stronghold last week when policemen fired at them some meters away from the Jolo Municipal Police Station, the Philippine Army earlier said.
The Napolcom will look into allegations of cover up and determine the administrative liabilities of the policemen, said its vice chairman Rogelio Casurao.
"Maximum tolerance should have been exercised in any situation, especially in a case where doubt has already been established. The other side, the group of the members of the PH Army have already identified themselves. On that assumption, care should have been exercised already especially that it was very near the police station," he told ANC.
Among the pieces of evidence the Napolcom has gathered was a video uploaded on social media that showed no firearms were seen near the soldiers, Casurao said, contrary to policemen's claim that the soldiers pointed guns at them.
Videos however are "not conclusive" and will need to be supported by other pieces of evidence, he added.
"There’s indicators there, according to the video, as against the allegations issued out that there was a misencounter. If you look at the video, there were no firearms around the vehicle, that was to my mind that was the vehicle used by victims," Casurao said.
"If they were armed, normally, the video or pictures will show that firearms are also seen by spectators alongside with the victims especially if they're sprawled on the ground. There’s a video where you can really see there were no firearms there," he said.
The policemen also had "no reason for that hasty departure'' following the incident, Casurao said.
"Operational procedures will dictate they should take care of the place of the incident. It’s very important that the freshness of the venue should be there when technical and forensics come to the picture," he said.
"I would say that would have been the better procedure and this would have been avoided. But it seems things happen so fast, that there’s no chance to even say stop shooting, we’re not enemies we’re brothers in arms. It’s really hard to establish whether care was really established or not."
The Napolcom will complete its investigation in 2 weeks, Casurao said. The investigating body has yet to speak to both sides as it was still completing its gathering of evidence, he added.
"One would say this is a judgment call. Others would say there was haste or improper use of wisdom in dealing with a volatile situation. It will depend on the kind of evidence we gather," he said.