MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte will get to the bottom of the alleged “misencounter” between operatives of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) near a mall along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City Wednesday afternoon, Malacañang said Thursday.
In a press briefing in Negros Oriental, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made this assurance, saying the President expressed sadness and concern over the incident that took place between two groups of government forces.
Roque said the President was informed of the shootout after recording his public address in Malacañan Palace on Wednesday night.
“The President, of course, expressed both sadness and concern bakit nangyari nga ito na kapwa tao ng gobyerno ay nagkaputukan. Ang in-assure niya, gaya ng assurance na ginawa niya nung nangyari ito sa Sulu, ay (why this happened among government forces. He assured, like the assurance he gave when this happened in Sulu) we will get to the bottom of this incident,” Roque said.
Roque also expressed confidence that parallel investigations by the ad hoc joint PNP-PDEA team and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) will shed light on the incident.
“We are confident po that with the PNP and the PDEA forming an investigation panel and Justice Secretary [Menardo Guevarra] ordering to conduct its own parallel investigation that we will know the truth behind this incident and justice will be done,” he added.
Based on reports from Batasan Police Station 6, the alleged misencounter between PNP and PDEA took place while both camps were conducting drug buy-busts.
At least two policemen were killed while at least three from the PDEA group were brought to the hospital.
Gov’t probing drug war irregularities
Roque also assured that the government continues to investigate deaths in police drug war operations and prosecute perpetrators if necessary.
This after Guevarra told the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on Wednesday that preliminary findings from the DOJ-led drug war review panel showed that a number of police officers did not follow protocols in drug war operations.
“Our initial and preliminary findings confirm that in many of these cases, law enforcement agents asserted that the subject of anti-drug operations resisted arrest or attempted to draw a weapon and fight back. Yet no full examination of the weapon recovered was conducted, no verification of its ownership undertaken, no request for ballistic examination or paraffin test was pursued until its completion,” he said.
Guevarra said the investigation also showed that scores of police have been recommended for administrative and criminal action.
Roque said Guevarra’s admission proves that the Duterte administration is in “discharge of the state obligation to investigate and prosecute violations of the right to life.”
“Itong naunang pahayag ng ating Secretary of Justice ay nagpapatunay na seryoso po tayo sa obligasyon natin na mag-imbestiga at maglitis dahil hinaharap po natin ang katotohanan na posible pong may ilang mga alagad ng batas na kinakailangan sigurong managot sa ating batas dito sa Pilipinas (The statement of the Secretary of Justice proves that we are serious in our obligation to investigate and prosecute because we face the truth that it’s possible that there are some law enforcement officers that need to prosecuted under the law),” he said.
He noted that Guevarra’s “transparency” is part of the administration’s commitment to strengthening its domestic accountability mechanisms.
“That proves that our domestic legal system is working at hindi po dapat maghimasok ang ibang mga istitusyon. Bigyan po natin ng pagkakataon ang ating legal system na gumana ngayong meron na pong ganyang transparency at open-mindedness sa parte po ng no less than our Secretary of Justice (and that other institutions should not interfere. Let’s give our legal system a chance to function now that there is that kind of transparency and open-mindedness of the part of no less than our Secretary of Justice),” he added.