Joint PNP-PDEA inquiry, separate NBI probe into Commonwealth shootout

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
Joint PNP-PDEA inquiry, separate NBI probe into Commonwealth shootout
Photo shows PDEA personnel on the ground after a shootout with personnel of the PNP on Wednesday night.

MANILA, Philippines — Authorities are set to probe the botched "buy-bust" operation that led to what the national police calls a "misencounter shooting" with drug enforcement personnel that left two dead. 

To recall, personnel of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and the Philippine National Police clashed outside the Ever Gotesco Mall along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City on Wednesday night.

Four others were injured in the aftermath of the shooting as cops found assorted high-powered firearms along with several badges and identification cards at the crime scene.

The PNP claimed it was the drug enforcement officers who fired on them first.

According to a "sketchy report" from the Batasan Police Station 6, personnel of the Quezon City Police District's Detective Special Operations Unit conducted a buy-bust operation they described as having "complete coordinations and necessary papers."

"During the buy-bust operation the PNP personnel involved without their knowledge the people they were transacting are PDEA agents," the report read. 

"Allegedly during the [confrontations], PDEA agents first engaged to shot towards the PNP personnel leaving no option to fight back against them resulted [in] series of injuries to both parties," it also said. 

Joint body set to investigate 

In a statement sent to reporters early Thursday morning, Police Brig. Gen. Ildebrandi Usana, PNP spokesperson, said that the PNP had formed a board of inquiry to investigate the incident. 

He added that Police Gen. Debold Sinas, PNP chief, had appointed the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group as the lead investigating body for the investigation. 

"In the interest of determining the truth behind the incident, a joint PNP-PDEA Board of Inquiry will be formed to determine what transpired and who should be held liable," Usana said. 

"The PNP and PDEA both agree and assure the public that the incident, while serious, will in no way affect the continuing operational relationship and coordinations they have long firmed up in the fight against illegal drugs." 

The PDEA has yet to issue a statement on the incident. 

NBI to conduct separate probe 

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the National Bureau of Investigation wil also look into the incident. 

"I have ordered the NBI to conduct a parallel investigation on the alleged misencounter this evening between PNP anti-illegal drug operatives and PDEA agents at Commonwealth Avenue. This is separate and distinct from the probe to be conducted by an ad-hoc joint PNP-PDEA board of inquiry earlier announced by [Sinas]," Guevarra told reporters in a text message. 

Police Brig. Gen. Vicente Danao, Metro Manila police chief, asserted in an interview over CNN Philippines that it was a "legitimate buy-bust operation." 

Last year, military personnel were shot dead by police officers in Jolo, Sulu. The incident, which police initially described as a "misencounter", led to murder and planting of evidence charges against the cops involved after an investigation by the NBI.

In 2018, soldiers mistakenly killed six police officers and wounded nine others whom they thought were communist guerrillas operating in the hinterlands of Sta. Rita in Samar province. — with a report from Kristine Joy Patag 

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