(UPDATED) -- Top officials of the Philippine Army and Philippine National Police (PNP) faced the media on Tuesday, June 26, with a visible expression of pain and loss over Monday’s misencounter between the two forces in Sta. Rita, Samar, that resulted in the death of six young police officers and the injury of nine others.

Major General Raul Farnacio, commander of the Army’s 8th Infantry Division, and Chief Superintendent Mariel Magaway, director of the Police Regional Office in Eastern Visayas, along with other officials, took the turn in answering the question of the reporters to shed light over the incident.

“Normally, we really have coordination. We created a special task force group to look into the aspect of cooperation. This afternoon (of Tuesday), the independent fact-finding body from Manila will arrive,” said Magaway said, as he explained on whether coordination between the two security forces was at fault.

“If we go to the nitty-gritty of the investigation, then we’ll find it,” said Farnacio, as he tried to illustrate on the difference between the “culture” of the police and the Army, this despite saying that they have been undergoing training together.

“But on the nitty-gritty, we’ll still have to talk more. Coordination is very important,” he added.

READ: Police, military protocols up for review after misencounter

The Army commander said that “when you’re in a hostile area, you have to be alert at all times,” knowing that the enemies are not known.

He said that New People’s Army, the guerrilla front of the Communist Party of the Philippines, also used government-issued uniforms when they would infiltrate local government units.

These are the decisions that cannot be avoided, which resulted in accidents, sometimes, he added.

Based on the information of the Army’s platoon leader, the terrain was “vegetated,” adding that the police were in a lower ground while the Army troops were in the higher ground.

The Army said they could not clearly recognize the uniform of the leading element because their combat shirts were “already muddy.”

As they found out that the other party had their rifles, the Army troopers from Charlie Company, 87th Infantry Battalion led by First Lieutenant Orlando Casipit Jr. and his 16 enlisted personnel decided to fire their guns.

With the distance of 75 to 100 meters, the firefight between the two forces lasted for 20 minutes, the official said.

“The troops fired first,” Farnacio admitted during the press conference. “But the return fire was strong,” he added.

Farnacio, however, reacted when the skirmishes in Samar was compared to the infamous “Mamasapano” tragedy in 2015 where 44 members of the PNP elite Special Action Force (SAF) were waylaid by Moro rebel groups in Maguindanao.

“We’ll just wait for the investigation to check on where the problem was. Let’s not exaggerate the situation. It’s very tragic,” he said.

The Army commander also admitted that one of their radio was their “handicap,” saying it was not compatible.

“We have a different radio,” he said.

For his part, Magaway said that of the nine wounded police, two already returned to their battalion as they only suffered a minor injury.

The others are still in the hospital, with three of them still in the operating room, he said.

“But the doctor assured me that they’re in a stable condition,” said Magaway, adding he is due to visit them later Tuesday, June 26.

The police director assured that they will give immediate financial assistance to the affected police officers and their bereaved families.

The slain officers were mostly in between their 20s and 30s.

The police official said they will fast-track the initial release of P250,000 to the police.

Operations sanctioned

Magaway said the operation of the PNP officers in Sta. Rita, Samar, is based on the command’s memorandum circular.

“It is stipulated in the concept of operation that there should be two minor and one major (operations), but intelligence-driven,” he said.

“We got the operation planned out, every time they moved,” the official said.

Meanwhile, Magaway maintained that the incident was “very tragic” and assured that they are going to look for the lapses to correct it.

He said they would arrange all the necessary assistance on the burial of the fallen police officers.

The whole Army of Eastern Visayas extend sympathy to the bereaved families, Farnacio added.

“We will commit financial assistance to the personnel. Although we know there are some accidents that we cannot really avoid. Hopefully, we can personally deliver all our assistance that they needed,” he added.

The Army official also assured that the incident will not happen again in the future.

He said they will ensure transparency in the investigation.

“We will not cover anything,” he said.

He said they will give “sanction” on whoever side is at fault.

Yet he said that the relation between the Army and the police remains intact.

No to unconfirmed reports

As this developed, both sides urged the public against disseminating irrelevant and unconfirmed information on social media and other platforms.

“This kind of information may affect the conduct of the investigation. An official statement will be printed again as soon as collective information be enough to establish the concreteness of the facts of the case,” the police said.

The police are currently in a thorough and critical investigation as to what really happened in the said firefight.

On Tuesday afternoon, June 26, PNP Chief Oscar Albayalde also arrived in Tacloban City to personally monitor the situation.