Major General Raul Farnacio of the 8th Infantry Division confirmed in an interview that the soldiers fired first against the police officers which triggered a misencounter between the two government armed groups in Sta. Rita, Samar on Monday, June 25, leaving six policemen dead and nine others wounded. The two groups were both conducting combat operations in the area.
Slain cops were identified as PO1 Julius Suarez, PO1 Edwin P. Ebrado, PO1 Phil Rey Mendigo, PO1 Wyndell Noromor, PO1 Julie Escalo and PO1 Rowel Reyes.
According to Farnacio, members of the Philippine Army mistook the policemen as members of the New People’s Army as their clothes were already “muddy”. The sixteen soldiers involved in the incident has been disarmed of their, M4 assault rifles and a sniper rifle which will be subjected to ballistic tests. Police ground commanders, on the other hand, involved in the misencounter were dismissed from their duties according to Police Regional Office 8 director Chief Supt. Mariel Magaway.
The Philippine National Police, in a statement on June 26, assured the bereaved families that necessary actions will be taken as the AFP-PNP Special Investigation Tasked Group (SITG) conducts an investigation on the said incident.
Financial assistance under the Comprehensive Social Benefits Program will be given to the families of slain policemen. A total of P500,000 will be given to families of those killed in action, P250,000 to those wounded in action (WIA) or wounded in police operation (WIPO) with total permanent physical disability and P100,000 to those WIA/WIPO with major and minor injuries.