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EDITORIAL: A Ticking Bomb

Belaboring to determine whether the recent unfortunate shootout between the Quezon City Police operatives and the agents of Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency is rather too premature, particularly on whether the incident was either an entrapment or instigation operation.

The efforts of distinguishing only tend to muddle the investigation. What is more relevant is to inquire whether there has been the mandatory coordination between the PDEA and the PNP.

To have a clearer picture of the incident, reference to the memorandum from the President addressed to all concerned dated October 10, 2017 (Implementation of RA 9175 otherwise known as Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 ) and Memorandum Order No. 17 by the President of the Philippines (Directing the Philippine National Police and other law enforcement agencies to resume providing active support to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in the conduct of anti-illegal drug operations, dated December 5, 2017) is most ideal.

The second to the last paragraph of the memorandum dated October 10, 2017 categorically states that: “ The PNP shall, at all times, maintain police visibility, as a deterrent to illegal drug activities leaving to the PDEA however the conduct of anti-illegal drug operations as aforestated.”

On the other hand Memorandum Order no.17 by the President dated December 5, 2017 directs the PNP and other law enforcement agencies to resume in providing active support to the PDEA in the conduct of anti-illegal drug operations. The very title of Memo order No.17 is crystal clear about that.

In the same memo the President clarified that PDEA shall continue to be the overall lead agency in the anti-illegal drug campaign pursuant to R.A No. 9165 and shall coordinate all government efforts through the Interagency Committee on Anti-illegal Drugs (ICAD) created under Executive Order No. 15 issued on March 6, 2017.

Memorandum Order No. 17, creates an impression that there came a point when certain agencies other than the PDEA have been conducting operations without proper coordination. In plain, they ceased to provide active support to the PDEA in the conduct of anti-illegal drugs operation for which reason Memo Order No. 17 became necessary in order for PNP and other law enforcement agencies to resume to provide active support to PDEA .

If the PNP and other law enforcement agencies did not cease to provide active support to PDEA, there was no necessity to direct them to resume their support to PDEA. In short what prompted the issuance of Memorandum Order No. 17? Was something wrong to the anti-illegal drugs operations?

Taking under consideration this very sensitive point could be of great help in determining responsibility for the unfortunate PNP-PDEA shootout. Advancing the theory that certain criminal elements probably manipulated the occurrence of the shootout has tell tales of a white wash or divisionary tactic.

Misencounter is farfetched given that PNP and PDEA are duly equipped with modern communication facilities. Or does the incident remind us of the film entitled “Iyo ang Tondo, kanya ang Cavite.”?

Fine tuning the inter-agency coordination documents is a must. Any vagueness of the documents about the interrelationship of the agencies concerned should be ironed out, given that the parties supposed to give life to the directives suffer from human frailties as usual.

Any mistake, honest or not, shall continue to be a ticking bomb.

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