Malacañang is concerned about the escape of two suspected female suicide bombers after the unfortunate killing by policemen of four soldiers pursuing them in Sulu earlier this week.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said President Rodrigo Duterte is concerned about the suicide bombers who escaped.

Roque said that the attack planned by the female suicide bombers could still happen after an encounter near a police station in Jolo.

“Nakakalungkot po na bagamat in addition doon sa nawalan ng buhay sa ating Hukbong Sandatahan, iyong apat kasama ang isang major, eh nakawala po iyong mga teroristang hinahabol ng ating Hukbong Sandatahan,” Roque said.

“Iyong pinaplano ng mga teroristang iyan na mangbomba ay pupuwedeng mangyari kahit anong oras dahil hindi nga po sila napigilan noong mga napatay na kasundaluhan,” Roque added.

The two female suicide bombers were related to the men behind the suicide bombing attacks in Indanan, Sulu last year, according to Philippine Army chief Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay.

Gapay stated that the four intelligence officers were trying to pinpoint the location of the suicide bombers when they were blocked by police officers.

“These are the suspected bombers. So nando’n na, they’re about to capture them, ‘yung bahay na lang pini-pinpoint, and we lost the opportunity,” Gapay said.

“Imagine, these two could make two more Jolo Cathedral bombings ha. ‘Yun ang potential nila,” he added.

Gapay was referring to the January 27, 2019 suicide bombings in Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Cathedral in Jolo, Sulu. Twenty people were killed and 102 others injured.  Most of the victims were Roman Catholics attending Sunday Mass.

Gapay described the encounter as murder contrary to the defense of the Philippine National Police; for them it was a shooting incident. 

The PNP Internal Affairs Service is implementing a motu proprio investigation on the incident.

Meanwhile, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Major General Edgard Arevalo on Friday committed that they will continue to locate the suicide bombers who had successfully escaped.

“The disruption of the operation due to that unfortunate incident was a temporary setback. The entire AFP machinery and infrastructure are still in place and on track,” Arevalo said.

“The security and intelligence operations in Sulu continue in full swing up to this very moment. The guidance of the AFP Chief General Felimon Santos, Jr. to the troops: ‘Eyes on the ball,'” he added.  (RJ Espartinez)