'No announcement of buy-bust ops,' PDEA says on clash with cops | Inquirer News

‘No announcement of buy-bust ops,’ PDEA says on clash with cops

By: - Reporter / @MAgerINQ
/ 09:37 PM May 24, 2021

Wilkins M. Villanueva

Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director General Wilkins M. Villanueva. Senate PRIB file photo / Joseph Vidal

MANILA, Philippines — “All hell broke loose” when a poseur buyer from the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) drew his gun without declaring they were conducting a buy-bust operation, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director General Wilkins Villanueva told senators on Monday.

Villanueva showed before the Senate committee on public order closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage leading to the deadly clash between anti-drug operatives of QCPD and PDEA near a mall on Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City last February 24.


Villanueva noted that in one video, the poseur buyer, Police Corporal Elvin Garado could be seen walking ahead the police’s confidential informant (CI), Jonaire Decena, while approaching their supposed targets in a parked white vehicle.


On board the vehicle, however, were PDEA agents and an asset conducting their own buy-bust operation.

“Wala man lang usapan na kahit ano, bumunot kaagad si Late Corporal Garado at may hinahanap na dito sa harapan ni alias Bato,” he said, referring to PDEA’s asset, Untong Matalnas alias “Bato.”

(Without saying a thing, Late Corporal Garado immediately drew his gun, looking for something from alias Bato.)

Villanueva said the target of their buy-bust operation was Decena while Police Major Sandie Caparroso, QCPD’s team leader, said they were targeting a certain James Tan.

But panel chair Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, who headed the Philippine National Police, surmised it could be Garado’s “police instinct” to secure the evidence and arrest the targets.

The PDEA chief stressed, however, the need follow procedures in buy-bust operations.


Senator Risa Hontiveros also echoed Villanueva’s questions on the conduct of the police’s buybust operations based on the CCTV footage presented before the committee.

“Oo nga kung si Garado ay poseur buyer bakit nakabunot ang baril nya paglapit dun kay Matalnas and yung pera andito pa sa babae sa likod, si Jonaire, so hindi pa nangyari yung buy-bust,” Hontiveros pointed out.

(If Garado was a poseur buyer, why did he drew his gun when he approached Matalnas while the woman, Jonaire, was behind him so there’s no buy-bust yet.)

“So parang yung mga elements ng dapat mangyari nandito pero medyo hindi in order o baligtad yung sequence,” she added.

(So it seemed that all the elements were there but the sequence was not in order.)

According to Villanueva, it was after a body search was conducted by the poseur buyer on the PDEA’s asset that “all hell broke loose.”

“You put yourself on the part of PDEA, si agent Garado dumaan sa harap ng back up and then paglapit nya dito, yung tao natin nakita nya na bumubunot na ng baril yung seller or yung ka transaction. So what they will do? They will immediately reinforce kasi may 2 agents tayo sa likod,” he said.

(Agent Garado passed by in front of the back up and then when he was close by, our person saw the seller drew a gun immediately. So what will they do? They will immediately reinforce we have two agents at the back.)

The PDEA chief stressed there was no transaction, delivery or even announcement from police that they were conducting a buy-bust operation.

“There was no announcement na buy-bust ito. Wala sir e. Lumapit lang si late Corporal Garado, bumunot at tinutukan agad si CI,” he lamented.

(There was none. Late Coporal Garado approached, drew his gun and pointed it at the CI.)

“(From) the point of view ng backup officers natin aba e ina-assault yung tao natin. We have to reinforce them and that actually what happened.”

(From the point of view of our backup officers, they were assaulting our men. We have to reinforce them and that actually what happened.)

Dela Rosa asked, however, why the police’s actions seemed they were the ones aggressively arresting their targets.

“Bakit kung sila’y legitimate PDEA, bakit deretso putok kaagad. Hindi sila nagsabi na brad, PDEA kami, tao namin yan. Bakit nagputok kaagad…?” the senator asked.

(Why is it that if they are legitimate PDEA, why did they open fire immediately. They did not say “brad, we are PDEA, those are our men. Why did they open fire immediately?)

“Sir, that’s immediate action. Ito na yung muscle memory natin. Alam mong bumunot na yung hindi natin kilala e. Di naman sila nagpakilalang pulis e,” Villanueva answered.

(That’s our muscle memory. You know someone that we don’t know drew his gun. They didn’t introduce as police.)

Dela Rosa went on, insisting that the actions of the police showed they were neutralizing the targets. He also debunked PDEA’s claim there was no buy-bust declaration from the police, noting the text messages and transactions of the police with their targets prior to the buy-bust operation.

“Yan ang problema natin kung ganito ng ganito ang mangyayari at gagawin ng PNP, ay my problema talaga yan…” Villanueva said.

(That’s our problem if this will go on and the PNP will do this, that’s really going to be a problem.)

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The poseur buyer, and the PDEA’s asset were among the four anti-drug operatives killed in the gunfight.

TAGS: PDEA, Philippine National Police, Police, Senate

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