Two police officers, one Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) agent and one informant were killed in a “misencounter” as members of the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) and the PDEA both conducted a “legitimate” buy bust operation on Commonwealth Ave. Wednesday.
Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Debold Sinas said in a press conference on Thursday said two police officers were killed-in-action while another one was wounded.
Meanwhile, PDEA Director General Wilkins Villanueva said, two fatalities were reported from their side—an agent and an informant. Several others, including their “responding agents,” were wounded.
“It’s very unfortunate na nagkaroon ng misencounter (It’s very unfortunate that a misencounter happened),” Metro Manila police chief Maj. Gen. Vicente Danao Jr. told reporters Wednesday night regarding the incident.
Initial investigation conducted by Batasan Police Station said that an “armed encounter” transpired between members of QCPD’s District Special Operations Unit and agents of PDEA at around 5:45 p.m. on a parking lot of a fastfood restaurant.
But during the operation, “the PNP personnel involved” had no idea that “the people they were transacting” were already agents from PDEA, the police report added.
“Kung sino ‘yung nag buy bust, sino yung ka buy bust. Yun pa yung iniimbestigahan natin (Who conducted the buy bust against whom, that’s what we will investigate),” Danao said.
Police claimed that during the confrontation, PDEA agents first fired the shots on PNP personnel, which left police “no option” but “to fight back against them.”
During the shootout, motorists and commuters were temporarily prohibited to pass through the area. The traffic was also placed at a standstill.
On several videos posted on social media, successive gunshots were heard, which lasted for several minutes, that prompted passersby and witnesses to run for safety.
Ever Gotesco Mall, a mall adjacent to the crime scene, in a statement said it had to secure “access to the mall so all shoppers are safe inside.”
The exchange of fires only stopped when both PNP and PDEA officials informed their commanders on the ground that they were engaging with their fellow law enforcers, Danao said.
“So kanina, habang nagpuputukan, Director of the PDEA called me na tropa nila ‘yun (So during the shootout, the director of PDEA called me that it was their agents on the shootout)… So I advised them [police] to stand down,” Danao added.
In separate interviews, both the police and the PDEA claimed that the operation they each conducted was “legitimate.”
“As far I know… as I have received from the District Director of the QCPD, meron naman silang (they had) pre-op in coordination with PDEA. So yung QCPD ang lakad nila is authorized naman. So kung paano nangyari, yun pa ang titingnan natin (QCPD’s operation was authorized. So what we will investigate is what really happened),” Danao told reporters in an interview.
“Actually, it’s a legitimate anti-illegal drug operation,” he added.
But, in a Viber message, PDEA spokesman Derrick Carreon said that so far, what was “clear” was that the agency’s “Special Enforcement Service was” in the area “on a legitimate operation.”
Carreon also said in a GMA News interview that the buy bust money was also marked, which proved that the operation was coordinated.