Two Filipino police officers were killed and one injured in an attack with a narcotics team, following a botched entrapment operation outside a bustling Metro Manila mall, raising more questions about the continuation of President Rodrigo Duterte’s deadly war on drugs.
Wednesday night’s attack also injured three officers from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), although the extent of their injuries was not immediately known.
No civilians were injured in the incident, police said, but pedestrians and mall shoppers ran for cover as the two sides exchanged gunfire.
A spokesperson for the drug agency told reporters in Manila that several of their staff were carrying out a “legitimate operation” when the shooting broke out.
Spokesman Derrick Carreon also reportedly said the agency’s Special Enforcement Service (SES) was involved in the operation near the mall.
It is still not clear why officers from the nearby district police station were also at the scene of the operation and ended up exchanging gunfire with the narcotics enforcement officers.
According to anti-drug operations protocol, narcotic agents are required to coordinate with police regarding any impending raid.
Who shot first?
Conflicting reports said police said PDEA officers fired first, contradicting claims by drug enforcement officers, who accused police of exchanging gunfire.
“During the buyback operation, the [police] staff involved [engaged] without their knowledge [that] the people they performed [with] are PDEA officers, ”the police report said.
In a separate interview with the Rappler press website, Carreon, the drug enforcement spokesperson declined to comment on the police allegation, adding that a joint investigation would determine what happened.
WATCH: Internet user Romel Perez captures the shooting outside the Ever Gotesco shopping center along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City on Wednesday, February 24.
The failed “buy-bust” operation between the PNP and the PDEA left 2 police officers dead.
– Rappler (@rapplerdotcom) 25 February 2021
He also confirmed that the police confiscated the phones and weapons of the narcotics officers for further investigation.
Images posted on social media later showed police rounding up drug enforcement officers.
Police have promised to investigate the case.
“The PNP and PDEA both agree and assure the public that the incident, while serious, will in no way affect the ongoing operational relationship and coordination they have long consolidated in the fight against drugs. illegal, “the police statement added.
A parallel investigation by the National Bureau of Investigation will also be carried out, according to Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra.
– Daily tribune (@tribunephl) February 24, 2021
Duterte previously claimed to have a list of rogue police officers involved in the illicit drug trade. Although the list has never been made public, several police officers and former police officers have been found dead or killed in anti-drug operations.
Last year, the Philippine Star newspaper reported that internal police records showed that at least 50 police officers used illicit drugs in 2020, up from 35 in 2019.
Last November, Philippine Police Chief General Debold Sinas also pledged to monitor so-called “narco cops” and “ninja cops” allegedly involved in the looting or resale of illicit drugs.
The attack was the first-ever incident between police and drug enforcement officers during the Duterte administration, which was followed by Guevarra admitting serious shortcomings in anti-drug operations.
“In more than half of the cases examined, the law enforcement officers involved did not follow standard protocols relating to coordination with other agencies and the treatment of the crime scene,” he said. he said in a video message to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) 46th Ordinary Session.
He also said that there had been “no full examination” of the weapon recovered at the scene.
According to the latest government report, at least 6,011 suspects have been killed across the Philippines since Duterte launched the war on drugs in 2016.
A June 2020 UN Human Rights Council report, however, said the “most conservative figure” at the time already put the death toll at 8,663. of the man said at least 27,000 people had died.