PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Friday, February 26, 2021, directed the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to conduct the investigation into the shootout between the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in Quezon City.
Both the PNP and PDEA were ordered to cease their joint investigation through a board of inquiry.
“This is to ensure impartiality on the Quezon City shootout incident,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement.
The incident, which occurred near a mall on Commonwealth Avenue on February 24, killed two policemen, two PDEA agents and one asset.
Both the PNP and PDEA said their personnel were conducting legitimate anti-drugs operations.
PDEA Director General Wilkins Villanueva said it may have been a setup by drug syndicates.
Former police chief, now Senator, Ronald dela Rosa supported this theory.
"Isang teorya ko diyan, kung talagang pareho silang legitimate 'yung lakad nila, isang napakasaklap na posibilidad, baka mamaya they were being played by the drug syndicate... Sila na mismo ang pinagbabangga-bangga," Dela Rosa said in television interview.
"Baka mamaya 'yung mga informant, asset na kanilang ginamit, part of a large syndicate na mayroong somebody, orchestrated from the above, na ganito ang gawin ninyo para magpatayan 'yang dalawa na 'yan..." he added.
He said, however, that it wouldn’t have happened with proper coordination.
Surigao del Norte Representative and House oversight committee on dangerous drugs chairman Ace Barbers made the same observation in a separate interview.
"If there was really coordination and information-sharing, eh siguro maiiwasan ito. In fairness naman sa ating miyembro ng PNP at PDEA dito sa insidenteng ito, eh mukha namang... makikita natin na preparado sila..." Barbers said in a separate a separate television interview.
The Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs, which is chaired by Dela Rosa, as well as the House of Representatives will conduct separate inquiries on the incident next week.
The PDEA is the lead agency in the government's campaign against illegal drugs. (Third Anne Peralta-Malonzo / SunStar Philippines)