MANILA (UPDATE) - A House of Representatives panel is set to investigate next week the shootout between police officers and anti-narcotics agents in Quezon City that left 4 people dead and 4 others wounded.
"The committee has decided to call for a motu proprio investigation on Monday (March 1) on this incident," Surigao del Norte 2nd District Rep. Robert Ace Barbers told ANC.
Barbers, who leads the House Committee on Dangerous Drugs, said information that have been released regarding the shootout remained "sketchy."
"There are a lot of angles. In fact, there are a lot of stories kaya nga (that's why) it's too sketchy to a point that I, myself, and perhaps my members are actually confused as to really what happened during that night," he said.
Both the Philippine National Police and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency maintained the anti-drug operation was legitimate.
An alleged "sell-bust" has also been floated by police as a possible angle into the incident. In a "sell-bust," authorities pretend to sell drugs to target people who are buying illicit drugs. This was denied by PDEA, saying such an operation is illegal.
"The biggest question there is that in spite of following all these protocols, why did this unfortunate incident still happen? There's still a hanging question on our heads. So that’s what we want to discover and find and maybe remedy," Barbers said.
The lawmaker said the House investigation aims to determine if there is a need for new legislation to prevent a similar incident from happening.
"We felt that this unfortunate incident could not have happened if only there was strict compliance with the protocols," he said.
Section 86 of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 states that the PDEA is the lead agency in all anti-illegal drug operations.
"The NBI (National Bureau of Investigation), PNP and the Bureau of Customs shall maintain close coordination with the PDEA on all drug-related matters," the law read.
Some 10 policemen and 7 PDEA operatives involved in the operations are currently being investigated by a joint board of inquiry established by PNP and PDEA.
Sen. Ronald Dela Rosa, a former national police chief, meanwhile, expressed confidence there won't be a cover-up in the investigation.
“Pareho silang namatayan ng tropa. They are seeking justice at may usapan sila na kung ano ang kalalabasan ng joint board of inquiry na ginagawa ngayon, kung lalabas na may kasalanan ay PDEA, kung lalabas na may kasalanan ay PNP, they are gentlemen enough to accept the truth. Sabi nila aaksiyunan nila,” Dela Rosa said in a TeleRadyo interview.
(They both lost troops. They are seeking justice and there is an agreement that if the inquiry finds that it's PDEA's fault, or if it's the PNP's, they are gentlemen enough to accept the truth. They said they will take action.)
“Whitewash, medyo malayo sa iniisip ko yan. Hindi naman nila siguro isusugal 'yung kanilang career para sa coverup na 'yan,” sabi niya.
(A whitewash is far from my mind. I don't think they will risk their career for a coverup.)