President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday ordered the police and anti-narcotics officers to halt its joint probe on the recent shoutout between their agents in Quezon City, saying the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) should be the sole investigating body on the incident to ensure “impartiality.”
Presidential spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque said the chief executive instructed the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) to drop its board of inquiry on the purported “misencounter” on Wednesday that left four people dead and three others injured.
“Nagdesisyon na po ang Presidente na tanging ang NBI lang po ang pwedeng mag-imbestiga sa putukan na nangyari sa panig ng pulisya at kapulisan sa Quezon City,” Roque said in a video clip sent to reporters.
“‘Yung mga binuo pong joint panel para dyan na binuo po ng PNP at PDEA ay hindi na tutuloy sa kanilang imbestigasyon,” he added.
Roque noted that the NBI is mandated to “investigate particularly where men in uniform are involved to ensure impartiality.”
The joint panel between PNP and PDEA was launched on Thursday to find out why their agents engaged in a one-hour gunfight close to Ever Gotesco mall on Wednesday night during what they called a “legitimate” buy-bust operation.
The gunfire triggered panic among motorists and pedestrians near the shopping mall during the evening rush hour. No civilians were hurt.
PNP chief Gen. Debold Sinas and PDEA director general Wilkins Villanueva have previously vowed that those at fault would face the full force of the law.
They also admitted that they are not discounting the possibility that the law enforcers got played by drug rings, noting that the two agencies had different targets.
Ten police officers and seven from PDEA who were directly involved in the shootout were placed under restrictive custody while the investigation is ongoing.
The Senate committee on public order headed by former police chief and Duterte ally Sen. Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa and the House committee on dangerous drugs board led by Rep. Ace Barbers are set to launch their own investigations on the shoutout next week.
Roque earlier said President Duterte wanted to “get to the bottom of this incident” as he expressed “sadness” and “concern” over the incident involving two government bodies leading his internationally-condemned campaign against illegal drugs.