PNP, PDEA clam up on details of gunfight between their forces during buy-bust mission
MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine National Police (PNP) and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) have clammed up on details of the gunfight between their operatives that left four dead and four wounded in an apparent exercise of caution in revealing information about what has been dubbed as “misencounter.”
“We cannot give anything about how it happened because we are collecting all the pieces of evidence needed to find out how it started and how it escalated,” said Wilkins Villanueva, PDEA director general, talking in Filipino at a joint press briefing with the PNP.
When pressed by reporters about details on the roles of those killed in the gunfight, Villanueva said: “Can you first let the board of inquiry come up with a good and authentic investigation?”
“According to the PNP, this is what happened. According to PDEA, this is what happened,” he said in Filipino. “We shouldn’t be in a fight over this is what happened, this is what happened. But both of them are doing their jobs,” he said.
“That’s what we are working on,” Villanueva said. “How to piece together their version and our version so that through these pieces of evidence that we are collecting, then we can give you what really transpired,” he added.
PNP chief Gen. Debold Sinas echoed Villanueva’s statements
“In support of the statement of PDEA, we can’t disclose because if we will side with our men, there would really be a fight,” Sinas said in Filipino.
One detail disclosed by Villanueva, however, was a report about one PDEA agent who hid in a toilet of the Ever Gotesco Mall when the gunfight broke out as supported by a mobile phone video.
“That’s true, there’s one agent who was hiding in the comfort room and we already identified him but we don’t want to say who is wrong, who is right,” Villanueva said.
On Wednesday night (Feb. 24), a gunfight erupted between agents of the PDEA’s Special Enforcement Service (SES) and the Quezon City Police District’s Special Operations Unit that stemmed from a buy-bust operation in a mall on Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City.
Two policemen, a PDEA agent and a PDEA informant were killed in the gunfight while four others were wounded.
PDEA spokesman Derrick Carreon said that the PDEA’s SES agents were on a “legitimate” mission, the buy-bust operation, when the gunfight broke out. Metro Manila police chief Maj. Gen. Vicente Danao described the gunfight as a misencounter.