Social media’s questions about PNP, PDEA claims over deadly misencounter

February 26, 2021 - 4:46 PM
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Investigation, PNP-PDEA misencounter
Inter-agency investigators gather evidence and inspect a lifeless body found inside a van following the alleged misencounter between operatives of the PNP and PDEA at a fastfood chain along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City on Wednesday night, Feb. 24, 2021. (The STAR/Miguel de Guzman)

Here’s one theory: Operatives of either the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency or the Philippine National Police were caught red-handed committing illegal drug activities which led to the gunfight.

This was among possible situations Reddit users brought up on the forum after both PDEA and the PNP insisted that they were conducting sanctioned drug operations last Wednesday, February 24.

The PDEA and PNP clashed in a gunfight that night near the Ever Gotesco Mall along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City.

The shootout resulted in the deaths of four individuals recent police reports said. Three PDEA operatives were also wounded.

The incident alarmed civilians in the area. It also induced heavy traffic.

PDEA spokesperson Derrick Carreon previously told reporters that he was certain the anti-drug agents were conducting a sanctioned anti-drug sting in the area.

A “sketchy report” from the Batasan Police Station 6 stated the same, according to a Philstar.com report.

In the report, personnel of the Quezon City Police District’s Detective Special Operations Unit conducted a buy-bust operation with “complete coordinations and necessary papers.”

As of writing, a joint investigation between the PNP and PDEA is ongoing.

The Department of Justice also instructed the National Bureau of Investigation to launch a parallel probe.

Poking holes the ‘buy-bust’ claim

Some Reddit users raised the possibility that there was no drug pusher or seller in the first place. Rather, either party was committing the crime or a “sell bust” and got caught.

“So here’s the thing, as part of the drug buy bust operation, the agents were in contact with the suspected drug dealers before they met. The question is, were PDEA agents literally framing people without knowing who they really were targeting and so did the PNP unaware that they were talking to PDEA agents? Or they were both framing the same group which was highly unlikely or was it?” a Reddit user wrote.

The PNP-PDEA misencounter was the most unusual and deeply worrying from r/Philippines

“The PDEA was doing the buy-bust, PNP is saying they posed as buyers, but the PNP does not do ‘sell-bust’ at all. I think the PNP [personnel] were really selling drugs, pinapalabas lang na legitimate operation,” another said.

One Reddit user noted that should the “sell-bust” be confirmed, it presents a dangerous implication on how authorities handle drug cases from the start.

“Nakakatakot ang implication nito sa mga drugs cases. Parang lumalabas na sabwatan na ito among law enforcement at prosecutor. Kahit alam ng prosecutor ang ginagawa ng law enforcement, papalabasin pa rin na buybust para hindi madismiss yung kaso, i-co-coach pa ang mga agents kung ano ang sasabihin sa korte para lumabas na buybust yung ginawa nila,” the user said.

What protocols say

Both PDEA and PNP are also covered by the provisions of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drug Act of 2002, wherein:

“The penalty of life imprisonment to death and a fine ranging from P500,000.00 to P10 million shall be imposed upon any person, who, unless authorized by law, shall sell, trade, administer, dispense, deliver, give away to another, distribute dispatch in transit or transport any dangerous drug.”

In line with anti-drug stings, according to PNP’s Revised Operational Procedures, police officers also have the authority to conduct them provided that they transfer the case to the PDEA.

In Rule 37.2 under “Coordination Requirements” between PNP and PDEA, it is stated that:

“In any case, the PNP anti-drug units shall coordinate/ inform the PDEA of the anti-drug operation within 24-hours from the time of the actual custody of the suspects or seizure of said drugs and substances as well as paraphernalia and transport equipment used in illegal activities involving such drugs and/or substances and shall regularly update the PDEA on the status of the cases involving the said anti-drug operation.”

President Duterte, meanwhile, ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to be the sole body to investigate the incident after leaders of both the PNP and PDEA launched a probe.