After the “misencounter” between police officers and agents of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) where a firefight near a shopping mall left four persons dead Wednesday night, a joint investigation by a board of inquiry with representatives from both the Philippine National Police and PDEA is ongoing.
The ferocious gun battle between similarly clueless government agents triggered panic among motorists, pedestrians, and customers at a McDonald’s restaurant near Ever Gotesco Mall during the early evening rush hour on the busy Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City. Two police officers, a PDEA agent, and a PDEA informer were killed. An officer and three PDEA agents were wounded. Thankfully, no civilians were harmed by the deadly exchange of gunfire in a crowded area by supposedly highly trained and well-funded government agents.
PNP chief, Gen. Debold Sinas, has pointed out that both the PDEA’s special enforcement services agents and the officers from the Quezon City Police District’s special operating unit were conducting legitimate and duly-coordinated buybust operations.
The chiefs of the PNP and PDEA could not explain the gun battle between their operatives but promised that those found responsible would be prosecuted.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra has also ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to conduct a parallel probe on the alleged “misencounter”.
This epic misencounter between police and the PDEA, who were both conducting legitimate and duly-coordinated operations, would be a stain on the reputation of the PNP and PDEA and an insult to the hundreds of millions of pesos in intelligence funds given to these agencies tasked with spearheading the administration’s still-ongoing drug war. If a basic mistake can be made in conducting an operation that almost immediately resorts to deadly force, it begs the question of how many more fatal bloopers have been made throughout the conduct of this drug war that has already claimed thousands of lives.
Misencounters between PNP officers have already killed military men. Now a similar operation has happened again with PDEA agents. How can government ensure that it does not happen again? Can Filipinos be assured that civilians are not dragged into misencounters with the trigger happy agents of their government?*