Of course, that’s the least we can say – to be polite.
We have heard of President Rodrigo Duterte’s grief and concern as well as commitment to get to the bottom of what happened during the bloody shootout five days ago at the Ever Gotesco Mall in Quezon City.
He has ordered an impartial investigation to get to the bottom of the incident involving agencies in the government’s anti-drugs campaign where two policemen died and four others – one policeman and three agents of the PDEA – in what has been admitted by authorities as not the first such case of wrong encounter.
These are the police in Quezon City and agents of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Authority, the government’s lerad agency in the fight against drugs in the country.
We have also heard that the Department of Justice has ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to conduct its own inquiry.
PNP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Ildebrandi Usana said in a statement a joint PNP-PDEA team will be formed to look into the incident.
Read his lips: “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 coordination they have long firmed up in the fight against illegal drugs.”
What gets our goat is the admission by no less than the National Capital Region Police Office chief Brig. Gen. Vicente Danao Jr. that both operations – in the reported drug buy-bust – were legitimate.
For Pete’s sake, did not the heads of these agencies, or at least those seniors directly involved in the operations, not compare notes and write down a roadmap or operating protocol, before they walked towards the site, their loaded guns and instincts at the ready?
And Danao said they were still investigating why there was an encounter between the PNP and the PDEA.
They have dressed up pretty much stupidly that they invite laughter at the wrong time and at the wrong place.
The Quezon City police were reported by their seniors as having had pre-ops coordination with PDEA. Which suggests the QCPD operation was authorized.
We think it is opportune to revisit the law.
We agree with Deputy Majority Leader and Quezon City Rep. Precious Hipolito Castelo who endorsed Rep. Ace Barbers’ call for a congressional inquiry into what she described as the deadly “misencounter” in her district between operatives of the QC police and the PDEA .
Castelo said her proposed inquiry in aid of legislation would focus “on the adequacy or inadequacy of the law.
The law provides that the PDEA “shall be the lead agency in the enforcement of the Act, while the PNP, NBI and other law enforcement agencies shall continue to conduct anti-drug operations in support of the PDEA, provided that the said agencies shall, as far as practicable, coordinate with the PDEA prior to anti-drug operations.”
“Is the provision on coordination clear enough for our law enforcers to avoid incidents such as what happened in my district on Wednesday? Does Congress have to make it clearer by for instance requiring agencies to disclose the details of their intended anti-drug operations?” Castelo asked.
It is good to read in various media platforms that the police were on a legitimate anti-drugs operation and that police authorities are deep in the neck investigating who are involved in the buy-bust and such details they believe would ferret out the truth.
Video clips circulating online showed shoppers, employees and other people scampering in different directions when gunshots rang out around sunset on Wednesday, with some, speaking on condition they would not be identified, saying the gunfight lasted nearly an hour.
But we respectfully suggest at this point that any and all investigations intended to come out with the truth should be done with thunderclap speed – precisely at a time of the deadly and unforgiving coronavirus pandemic.
The people, in all rungs of society, are keenly watching, while being anxious, that such bloody shootout should happen between men of two agencies who are supposed to be their protectors against criminals.
The people, jabbed by deaths and infections, recoveries despite, clamped on them by the pandemic, are anxious with reports that anti-COVID vaccines are just about ready to roll out as promised by the national government.
The government has also announced it was slowly moving on to reopen the badly battered domestic economy, which has put millions in the uncomfortable aisle of unemployment.
Assurance is a timely call that police and the PDEA, important agencies in law enforcement to implement the law in the government’s anti-drugs campaign, are doing their best and are coordinating with each other in whatever operation they would be conducting futurely.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque confirmed Duterte’s expression of sadness and concern, why these members of the government agencies get involved in a shootout.
He has pledged, on the same level of assurance in the Sulu incident in July 2020, that the government will get to the bottom of the incident, which should encourage an impartial investigation.
The spokesman said the President had committed that “justice will be done.”
In the Sulu incident, four soldiers were shot dead by policemen in an operation, an incident which Army Chief Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay described as a rubout when his men were “murdered.”
Last month, the nine policemen involved in the Sulu shooting were dismissed from the service. (AI/MTVN)