JOINT PROBE. PNP chief Gen. Debold Sinas (2nd from right) and PDEA Director General Wilkins Villanueva (3rd from left) do a fist bump during a joint press briefing in Camp Crame, Quezon City on Thursday (Feb. 25, 2021). Both agencies agreed to form a board of inquiry that will find out the truth behind the shootout between police and PDEA operatives near a mall along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City. (PNA photo by Lloyd Caliwan)

MANILA – Top officials of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) on Thursday vowed a full-blown investigation on the alleged "misencounter" between their operatives near a mall along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City.

“(Part of the) agreement with the Director General of PDEA (Wilkins Villanueva), we will find out what really happened. Kung sino talaga may sala (Whoever erred), whether PDEA or PNP, we will file a case against and if evidence warrants, we will go for it. Wala po kaming pagtatakpan (There will be no cover-up),” PNP chief, Gen. Debold Sinas told reporters during a joint press briefing in Camp Crame.

This as two police officers, one PDEA agent, and an informant were killed in Wednesday afternoon's shootout.

“All the evidence, all people concerned are now with the CIDG (Criminal Investigation and Detection Group). They are collating evidence and data. As of now, kung ano po ang nangyari ay hindi pa makuha yung picture kasi ini-interview at kinakausap pa yung two teams involved (we do not have a clear picture yet because the two teams involved are still being interviewed),” the PNP chief stressed.

Sinas said 10 cops and seven PDEA agents are 'restricted' inside CIDG headquarters for the ongoing probe.

Sinas said despite the unfortunate incident, he assured that the PNP and PDEA will continue their fight against illegal drugs in the country and intensify coordination so that this kind of incident will never happen again.

Meanwhile, PNP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Ildebrandi Usana, who read the joint statement of the two agencies, appealed to the public to stop speculations on what really transpired during the incident.

“Neither agency has an exact notion on what went wrong and what was supposed to have been done. We, therefore, appeal to the public to let the investigation take its course first before anyone makes unfounded and baseless claims without the required strength of evidence. We will speak only on the basis of verified facts, not on mere speculations nor conjectures,” he noted.

Usana said that both PNP and PDEA assure the public that there will be criminal and administrative charges to be filed against those individuals found to have violated the laws, rules, and regulations.

“As we take on this particular case with a strong desire for objectivity and integrity, even if admittedly it has caused a temporary setback, we reiterate that the war on drugs continues and the PNP and the PDEA remain constantly working together to crush the real enemy in this regard -- illegal drugs,” Usana noted.

Villanueva, meanwhile, condoled with the families of the agents and the cops who were killed in the line of duty.

“Yesterday was one of the saddest days in the history of drug law enforcement (in the country) because three government workers were killed in the performance of their duties. It was really untimely and to all families who lost their loved ones, the PDEA sympathizes with them and PDEA will be willing to help the families for them to be able to cope and move forward,” he stressed.

He also said this unfortunate incident will not dampen ties between the two agencies.

"Mas lumakas kami. Mas naging dikit kami. (We became stronger. We became closer to each other). This incident will not result sa paghihiwalay ng pulis at PDEA (in the separation of the police and PDEA). Lalo po naming pag-iibayuhin ang coordination ng isa’t isa. Dahil kung di namin gagawin yan, isa lang ang mananalo dito -- ilegal na droga. At yan ay hindi namin papayagan (We will intensify coordination with one another. Because if we will not do that, there is one winner here -- illegal drugs. We will not allow that)," he said. (PNA)