Press Release
May 25, 2021

Dela Rosa: PNP and PDEA likely played by drug suspect during QC misencounter, agencies need better coordination to prevent further shootouts

SENATOR Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa sees the need to amend the relevant law to enhance the required coordination between law enforcement agencies in their operations to avoid misencounters like what happened last February 24 in Commonwealth, Quezon City between policemen and agents of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) where 4 persons died.

Dela Rosa, chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, said this on Monday during the panel's inquiry into the February 24 fatal incident.

During the hearing, it was confirmed that the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) submitted a coordination paper to PDEA for the conduct of a buy-bust operation by its District Special Operation Unit (DSOU) in Commonwealth Avenue, but the document did not reach the team of Special Enforcement Service of PDEA, which was on a separate buy-bust mission simultaneous with the police unit in the same area.

"D'yan tayo, kaya tayo may problema sa coordination. Akala ng PNP proper 'yang ginagawa nila dahil na-receive ng PDEA ang kanilang coordination paper, 'yun pala ang PDEA na nakatanggap, hindi ipinasa sa mga operating units ninyo (PDEA), mayroon tayong problema d'yan," Dela Rosa noted.

"Kaya ang nakikita ko, kailangan siguro nating amyendahan ang batas na hindi lang ang PNP at ang NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) ang magko-coordinate sa PDEA, dapat siguro sa drug operations, (kahit) PDEA ang lead agency, mag-coordinate kayo (PDEA) sa local police na pupuntahan ninyo para smooth ang takbo ng ating operation," he said.

PDEA Director General Wilkins Villanueva explained that if an anti-drug operation will be conducted within the National Capital Region (NCR), the coordination will be in the Regional Operation Center of PDEA-NCR.

"Katulad nitong operation sa NCR, so kahit sabihin natin na nagko-coordinate tayo, anong lugar ang babantayan ko eh ang laki ng NCR?" he asked.

Dela Rosa reminded PDEA that although it is the lead agency when it comes to anti-drug operations, it should also coordinate with the police because the PNP is the territorial unit and the primary law enforcement agency of the whole country.

During the hearing, both the PNP and PDEA presented their respective but conflicting versions of what transpired during that February 24 incident.

While both claimed they were conducting their respective buy-bust operations, separately, it was not yet established who was the seller and the buyer of the illegal drugs.

The NBI also provided the panel a substantial portion of its ongoing investigation, which hinted that alias "Pao Pao," a detainee of Sablayan Penal Colony in Occidental Mindoro and identified by the bureau as Mervin Magallon, was the one who orchestrated the supposed transactions in Commonwealth.

Alias Pao Pao allegedly contacted QCPD confidential informant Jonaire Decena, alias "Mama Jo," who herself is a detainee of the police district, and PDEA asset identified as Matalnas Untong, alias "Bato," who was one of the fatalities in the misencounter.

In an interview with DZRH later after the hearing, the former top cop said, "Lumalabas na napaglaruan itong dalawang ahensya [PNP and PDEA] ng sindikato na nakakulong doon sa Sablayan [Occidental Mindoro] natin na may pangalang Pao Pao, ito ay gumagamit ng pangalang James Tan...bumabalik na naman ang aking frustration sa restoration ng death penalty sa mga drug traffickers na yan dahil matagal na konbiktado ang mga taong yan pero hanggang ngayon sila pa rin ang naglalaro kahit nakakulong na. Sila pa rin, yun ang nakakainis dyan."

Dela Rosa said he would again convene the committee once the NBI is done with its investigation.

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