AMID their efforts to come up with Unified Operational Guidelines that will serve as the ‘Bible’ of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in their war on drugs, PNP chief, General Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar has underscored anew the need for all police unit commanders to strictly supervise their anti-narcotics personnel each time they conduct anti-narcotics searches or buy-bust operations.
The top cop said the effective supervision of police ground commanders including middle-level officers actually involved in anti-narcotics operations would guarantee there won’t be more ‘mis-encounters’ between the PNP and the PDEA in the future.
Gen. Eleazar and PDEA chair, Director General Wilkins M. Villanueva have stressed they won’t let drug lords laugh while their undercover officers occasionally clash with each other while conducting anti-narcotics operations in the same area at the same time.
Both top officials agreed to come up with a sure formula to prevent misunderstandings between their men in the future: Unified Operational Guidelines that will serve as Bible of PNP and PDEA men in the conduct of anti-narcotics operations.
Gen. Eleazar earlier noted that “illegal drugs syndicates are taking advantage of the weaknesses or gaps in the rules of procedure on coordination and inter-operations between the PNP and the PDEA. Kasama ang PDEA, ito ang tututukan natin ngayon para maiwasan na maulit pa ang anumang pagkukulang sa koordinasyon at komunikasyon,” he said.
The PNP chief ordered all his unit commanders to ensure full compliance with the PNP-PDEA unified operational guidelines expected to be released soon to prevent ‘misencounters and other feuds’ between the two law enforcement agencies.
“Once these unified operating guidelines are finalized and released to our men on the ground, I need the efficient supervision by our ground commanders to ensure that the rules are strictly followed by our operatives,” the PNP chief said.
Gen. Eleazar said he has directed all police commanders to make sure that their personnel specifically those assigned to PNP Regional, Provincial, City and Municipal Drug Enforcement Units are well-briefed on the PNP-PDEA guidelines once they are officially out.
“Kaya po natin ginawa ang guidelines na ito ay para maiwasan ang pagkakaroon ng mis-encounter o mis-coordination sa pagitan ng PNP at PDEA. Mahigpit din po nating ipatutupad ang guidelines na ito dahil gusto natin na maging maayos at pulido ang koordinasyon ng ating mga anti-illegal drug operatives sa PDEA at PNP.”
“This way, our law enforcement agencies would be more effective and efficient in carrying out their operations toward the eventual eradication of the country’s illegal drug trade,” he added.
According to Villanueva, the PDEA-PNP unified operational guidelines could be completed before the end of the month.
Uniform guidelines were created following the February 24 fatal shootout between undercover officers of the PDEA and the Quezon City Police District outside a shopping mall along Commonwealth, Quezon City which left two QCPD agents , one PDEA officer and an informant dead.
An almost ‘misencounter ‘also transpired in Fairview in May between members of the PDEA and the QCPD which highlighted the need for the two agency’s leadership to finally address the issue.
“Gaya ng nabanggit ni PDEA DG Wilkins Villanueva, pipilitin ng PNP at PDEA na mailabas ang unified rules na ito bago matapos ang buwan. We will immediately disseminate these for the immediate compliance of our operating units,” Gen. Eleazar said.
“I would like to stress that those who will not follow the unified rules will face sanctions. May kaakibat po na penalties ang guidelines para sa PDEA agents at PNP personnel na mapapatunayang sumuway sa uniform rules,” the PNP chief emphasized.
During a meeting between top PNP and PDEA officials led by Eleazar and Villanueva, the two agencies likewise resolved to strike hard on illegal drug syndicates that continue to operate in the country.
Gen. Eleazar said that he and PDEA’s Villanueva agreed to one thing: that there will be full coordination between their operating units and that one PNP unit must not operate in an area where the PDEA is conducting an anti-narcotics operation and vice-versa.
“Ang bottomline ng usapan namin eh wag lang magsabay sa isang operation. Hindi dapat mag-operate sa isang lugar at the same time ang PDEA and PNP, otherwise, mag-joint operation na lang kami,” the PNP chief said.
Gen. Eleazar said he and Villanueva are talking since they want to show to their men that they are good friends. Eleazar belongs to Philippine Military Academy ‘Hinirang’ Class of 1987 while Villanueva is from PMA ‘Maringal’ Class of 1988.
“Kami ni Wilkins ay matagal nang magkaibigan. In fact, direct underclassman ko siya and he is my foster brother sa PMA. Ipinapakita namin ngayon na kami ay naguusap kasi yun din ang gusto naming mangyari at gawin ng mga tao namin,” he said.
The PNP chief said that he and Villanueva committed to draw new guidelines that will prevent friction between the two agencies.
The first was triggered by a ‘misencounter’ between PDEA and Quezon City Police District Special Operations Unit agents along Commonwealth Avenue in Q.C. which left two policemen, one PDEA agent and a PDEA informant dead.
The 2nd was a ‘near misencounter’ between members of the PDEA Regional Office 4-A and members of the QCPD Station 4 near SM Fairview in Q.C. two Fridays ago.
“ With the commitment of the two agencies, hopefully hindi na mangyari uli ang mga ito. We agreed that the PNP Director for Operations and his counterpart will talk to merge our unified operational guidelines, not only in Q.C. not only in Manila but the rest of the country,” Gen. Eleazar said.
In the most recent incident, the concerned PDEA and QCPD officers were after different targets but were in the same area. Gen. Eleazar said that since both groups were armed, there really was a near exchange of fire.
Under their agreement, the PNP chief said there will be specific guidelines that need to be followed by officers from the two agencies or else, they will be facing administrative sanctions.
“We need effective supervision here to prevent similar incidents from taking place in the future. Actually, that (Fairview) incident was an unfortunate event but we need to clarify things here.
He said that since police need to coordinate their conduct of anti-narcotics operations with the PDEA, it should be noted that they already know the actual place where the PNP anti-narcotics officers will be conducting an operation and thus, should not conduct an operation in the same area at the same time.
Gen. Eleazar and Villanueva last month led a bilateral meeting of top PNP and PDEA officials at Camp Crame to figure out how to improve coordination, collaboration and cooperation of PNP and PDEA operating units to avoid previous incidents of miscommunication and misunderstanding during anti-illegal drug operations.
Among the salient points discussed in the meeting is the crafting of a unified operational guidelines and protocols that shall be observed by PNP and PDEA units when conducting anti-illegal drugs operations.
These include more rigid coordination procedures that must clearly indicate the specific areas of operation at the Station Level in big cities.
The officials also met to iron out gaps and weaknesses in procedure on coordination and interoperability between the two law enforcement agencies tasked to jointly wage the government’s war on drugs.