Senator Panfilo Lacson on Sunday urged the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to conduct an in-depth probe into the “misencounter” between the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) operatives, saying policy adjustments may be needed to prevent a repeat of the incident.
Lacson said he finds it unacceptable that drug syndicates may have played on the police and PDEA agents leading to the deadly shootout at the parking lot of a fast-food restaurant in Quezon City last Wednesday.
“It’s unacceptable. That’s why I said this incident should not happen again because this could cost the lives of the operatives and possibly the lives of civilians who were in that area,” Lacson said in Filipino in an interview in Radio DZBB.
The former PNP chief said he is also not discounting the possibility that the two agencies were tipped off by a single informant, not necessarily one person but two individuals coming from one syndicate.
“If that is what happened, that’s bad. That means there was lack of proper assessment and vetting of asset. They were duped. If that was a common informant , then they really had all the intention to ensure both these groups will clash,” he pointed out.
Lacson said one policy adjustment he can recommend would involve allowing PDEA to oversee anti-drug operations and to focus on intelligence work while leaving assault operations to specially trained police personnel.
“We have to resolve the trust issue between the PNP and PDEA but it would be better if the PDEA acted as overseer in anti-drug operations, and focus on intelligence-gathering, whether it is technical or human intelligence,” he stressed.
In other countries, Lacson pointed out the output of intelligence work is shared with specially trained police units, with one of two PDEA operatives guiding the police force in the operation.
“That is the ideal situation where coordination is smooth and tight. The last thing we need is the reluctance of our agencies to work together because of what happened,” he said. President Duterte on Friday ordered the NBI to look into the events that led to the shootout, prompting the Senate and House of Representatives, which were supposed to conduct separate investigations into the incident, to postpone their respective probe.