Duterte orders probe of police shootout

President Rodrigo R. Duterte has ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to investigate a shootout between police and agents of his anti-drug agency where four law enforcers were killed.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) would no longer conduct their own probes of the botched drug buy bust operation to ensure impartiality, presidential spokesman Harry L. Roque, Jr. told a televised news briefing on Friday.

Major General Vicente D. Danao, Jr, the capital region’s police chief, earlier said “sell bust” or the illegal practice of selling drugs to catch buyers could have caused the bungled operation near a mall along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City on Wednesday night.

It is the legal mandate of the NBI to investigate where men in uniform are involved to ensure accountability, Mr. Roque said.

Mr. Duterte recently named PDEA officials allegedly involved in drug trafficking and other anomalies.
Meanwhile, the PNP is evaluating the findings of a Justice department probe of the institution’s enforcement of Mr. Duterte’s deadly war on drugs.

“They are currently evaluating our findings and recommendations and will come out with their report in the first week of March, Justice Undersecretary Adrian Ferdinand S. Sugay told reporters in a Viber group message on Friday.

The Justice review panel was still discussing the filing of cases against policemen who violated rules of engagement in anti-illegal drug operations, he added.

The Justice department will continue to review police cases where people got killed, Mr. Sugay said.

More than half of thousands of police anti-drug operations violated rules of engagement, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra told the United Nations Human Rights Council on Wednesday.

Police claimed suspected drug pushers were killed after they resisted arrest, he said in a video message at the seventh meeting of the council’s 46th regular session.

But no full examination of the recovered weapons had been conducted, he said, citing the initial results of a government investigation. Ownership was never undertaken and ballistic exams and paraffin tests were never pursued, he added. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza and Bianca Angelica D. Anago

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