Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte will be meeting “as soon as possible” with the officials of the Quezon City Police District (QCPD), the city barangays, the city’s Department of Public Order and Safety, the Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office and other agencies to talk about public safety after the shooting incident on Commonwealth Avenue last Wednesday, February 24.
For Belmonte, there is a need for better crowd management to avoid incidents just like what was shown in amateur videos of the shootout posted on social media showing civilians standing a few feet away from the responding police officers.
“Public safety is paramount. We need to reexamine and look for ways to better impose crowd control in dangerous scenarios where stray bullets can hit anyone, or a running gun battle can ensue,” Belmonte said Friday.
“We already learned during the Quirino Grandstand hostage crisis that keeping media and civilians a safe distance away from ground zero or an encounter site is very crucial,” she added.
The risk to the civilian’s safety and lives in the area of the encounter is Belmonte’s primary concern.
“This, I believe, calls for a separate investigation by the PLEB (People’s Law Enforcement Board) later. While there were no civilian casualties, the incident happened in a commercial area and caused undue terror,” she said.
“The incident showed that certain protocols or guidelines could be institutionalized to ensure the safety of our civilian populace in such delicate operations,” she added.
Belmonte said it is the duty of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), the NBI, and the House of Representatives to investigate the incident. She added that she is leaving the matter to the joint inquiry team to determine the details of the incident and who should be held liable.
“It was definitely an isolated incident and we don’t want our police and PDEA (Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency) personnel’s performance to dip and their morale affected by what others are spreading in social media,” she said, adding that “we must allow them to continue protecting our city, and wait for the probe to finish.”
Belmonte is also planning to meet with business owners near the encounter site to help them regain consumer confidence.
“Our economy is already suffering from the pandemic and it is incumbent upon us to help the business owners in the area,” she added.
Two police officers, one PDEA agent, and one drug informant were killed Wednesday evening after anti-narcotics teams from the QCPD and PDEA exchanged fire in an apparent “misencounter” during a supposed buy bust operation at the parking lot of a fastfood restaurant along Commonwealth Avenue.