Two teams of undercover law enforcers looking to entrap drug suspects ended up shooting at each other on a busy Quezon City highway late Wednesday, leaving their bosses scrambling for answers and appealing for time to find out what went wrong.
Gen. Debold Sinas, the Philippine National Police chief and Wilkins Villanueva, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency director, announced a joint inquiry and said that the unprecedented shootout would not pit the two agencies against each other.
Two policemen and a PDEA agent were killed. One informant was also killed. Villanueva said one of the angles being looked into was that a drug syndicate set up the PDEA and the PNP.
Villanueva and Sinas refused to give details on the target of the drug bust and each other's informants.
"Right now, it's very raw that we can't even make a statement about what happened as far as the operation is concerned," Villanueva said. "Sino dito ang nag-buy-bust? Right now, we can't tell if both of us or one of us are doing the buy-bust."
Both the PNP and PDEA teams involved claimed they were on a buy-bust operation, seeking to catch drug dealers in the act of selling narcotics. While operationally independent from each other, their movements should be coordinated.
"We want to investigate properly. Ayaw namin maglabas ng report na mali pala," Sinas said.
Villanueva said: "Hindi naman natin pagsasabungin sarili natin, but both of them are doing their job."
The mobile phones of the law enforcers involved were confiscated and will form part of the investigation, Villanueva said.
"Lahat yan tininitingnan natin, lapses, kamalian, nagmamadali... Babaligtarin natin ang lahat para makita natin ang tama at totoong nangyari. Para ma-correct namin," he said.
Sinas said: "If the evidence warrants, we will go for it. Wala po kaming pagtatakpan."
The shootout paralyzed traffic on a large stretch of Commonwealth Avenue at rush hour. It also happened near the popular Ever Gotesco mall.
Villanueva said it was difficult to immediately determine the cause of the shootout.
"Putukan everywhere. Yung mga tao natin, just to tell you. Kung kayo ang nasa gitna, kayo nagtatrabaho, nagpuputukan, hindi mo alam ano nangyayari," Villanueva said.
The gunshots, for now, appeared to have come "out of nowhere," he said. "Sinasabi nga ng Murphy's Law, it will happen, at 'yun nga ang nangyari."
MORE ON CRIME: