PHILIPPINE National Police (PNP) chief, General Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar on Saturday said he will meet Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director General Wilkins Villanueva 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
The top cop set the meeting in the aftermath of last Friday’s incident at the parking lot of a mall in Quezon City which was described as a ‘misunderstanding’ between some members of the PDEA Regional Office 4-A and the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) Station 4
The incident came nearly three months after a botched buy-bust operation at the parking lot of Ever Gotesco along Commonwealth Avenue in Q.C. on February 24 resulted in a bloody shootout which left two QCPD officers, a PDEA agent and a PDEA informant dead.
Both agencies claimed that they had been conducting a legitimate anti-drug operation in the area then. Officers from the two law enforcement agencies exchanged fire for nearly an hour triggering panic in the area although no shoppers and other motorists were hurt in the gunbattle.
The National Bureau of Investigation took over the probe of the incident on orders of President Duterte.
During their meeting with their PDEA counterparts at Camp Crame, Eleazar will be accompanied by his Command Group and other senior PNP officers.
“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,” Eleazar said.
On Friday, operatives of the QCPD Station 4 Drug Enforcement Unit and the PDEA Region 4-A figured in another incident of apparent miscommunication at the parking lot of SM Fairview which affected the supposed buy-bust operations of the two agencies.
Fortunately, inter-agency courtesy prevailed and timely communication averted a repeat of what happened last February along Commonwealth Avenue, also in Q.C., the PNP Public Information Office headed by Brigadier Gen. Ronaldo E. Olay said.
“We will look into this issue beyond coordination concern, ano ba talaga ang problema why this issue keeps on recurring? Kaya nga nag-schedule tayo ng meeting with Director General Wilkins Villanueva, kasama ang ibang concerned officers, para ito mapag usapan at maayos na,” the PNP chief said.
Eleazar stressed the need for all government’s drug enforcement units to constantly analyze, discuss and update the strategies in the campaign against illegal drugs to identify the areas of improvement in the conduct of intelligence-gathering and operations.
The top cop said that the two incidents which both happened in Q.C. only strengthen the agencies’ resolve to strike hard against them.
“Likewise, we will set up features in the rules that would keep our men on the right track so that all their operations will be conducted with regularity and integrity. Upang sa ganun, ang ating pagkilos kontra iligal na droga ay patuloy na maging agresibo at epektibo,” the PNP chief said.
A PNP report said that around 3:50 p.m. Friday, a ‘misunderstanding’ between some 19 members of the PDEA Region 4-A led by Intelligence Agent Christopher Basilio and 12 operatives of the QCPD Station 4 Drug Enforcement Unit led by Major Dennis Francisco occurred at the parking area of SM Fairview in Bgy. Greater Fairview in Novaliches, Q.C.
The report said that the QCPD officers were conducting an anti-narcotics operation in the area not knowing that one of the personalities involved in the sting is a PDEA agent. The QCPD members were disarmed and handcuffed by the PDEA operatives, the report said.