PDEA slams DOJ raps vs agents in shootout

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency yesterday vowed to exhaust all available legal remedies against the resolution of the Department of Justice (DOJ), which ordered the filing of criminal charges against three PDEA agents in connection with a shootout along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City last year.

Breaking its silence on the issue, the PDEA stressed that facts, indisputable circumstances, electronic evidence, jurisprudence and other pieces of evidence show the culpability and accountability of the policemen involved in the incident.

“It is also in the highest interest of the Filipino people that these events be thoroughly examined and justice be impartially served so as not to jeopardize the government’s anti-illegal drugs efforts,” the PDEA said.

The DOJ National Prosecution Service indicted PDEA agents Khee Maricar Rodas, Jeffrey Baguidudol and Jelou Satiniaman on charges of homicide for the death of Cpl. Eric Elvin Garado.

Four members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) will be facing charges of direct assault.

However, the DOJ dropped the charges against Cpl. Alvin Borja for the death of PDEA agent Rankin Gano after a ballistics examination conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation failed to identify the firearm that killed the PDEA agent.

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The PDEA did not mince words on the Feb. 24, 2021 incident, stressing that Gano’s fellow drug enforcement officers were “shot, disarmed and brutally subjected to physical assault” by policemen.

“What can only be described as extremely unfortunate was that these acts were committed by members of the (PNP), and the beatings continued even after both sides had revealed their respective identities as law enforcement officers,” the PDEA said.

‘Stronger partnership’

Maj. Gen. Valeriano de Leon, PNP Directorate for Operations chief, said the misencounter has made the partnership of the two agencies stronger.

“Both the PNP and the PDEA have learned their lessons from that unfortunate incident, which has become an avenue for a stronger partnership, particularly in the campaign against illegal drugs,” he said in a statement.

De Leon was referring to the coordination protocol signed between then PNP chief Guillermo Lorenzo Eleazar and PDEA director general Wilkins Villanueva in July last year based on a series of meetings between
representatives of the two agencies to iron out policies that would prevent similar incidents in the future.

De Leon said the DOJ decision “will serve as an opportunity for both the PDEA agents and the
policemen concerned to explain their side as part of the due process.”

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