Police coordinated operation with PDEA a day before shootout, documents show

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 26) — The police gave the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency prior notice that they were planning to conduct a buy-bust operation in Quezon City, documents obtained by CNN Philippines on Friday show, backing claims of both law enforcement agencies that there was coordination between them.

At around 11:30 p.m. on Tuesday, the Quezon City Police District informed PDEA’s Metro Manila regional office of its operation against drug personalities with the aliases Kokoy and Datu, as well as their cohorts. According to the pre-operation report, the unnamed targets are drug pushers and dealers doing illegal business in Quezon City, while the “specific area of operation” indicated “NCR AOR (National Capital Region Area of Responsibility).”

PDEA-NCR then issued a certificate of coordination, which states that the police’s operation will run for 24 hours or from 12:30 a.m. on Feb. 24 (Wednesday) until the same time on Feb. 25 (Thursday).

But at around 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, what the Philippine National Police and PDEA call a coordinated operation led to a deadly shootout between their anti-drug operatives. Two cops, one PDEA agent, and an informant were killed. PDEA has identified the slain narcotics agent as Intelligence Officer I Rankin Gano, 43, noting that he received several accolades for his public service.

In a media briefing on Thursday, PNP Chief General Debold Sinas and PDEA Director General Wilkins Villanueva said both their teams were engaged in legitimate buy-bust operations but refused to disclose details on what transpired. They asked the public to refrain from speculating and wait for the findings of their joint board of inquiry.

In the same press conference, however, Villanueva said they are looking into all angles, including the possibility it was a setup planned by drug syndicates, or there were scalawag personnel involved.

On Friday, President Rodrigo Duterte effectively dissolved the PNP and PDEA panels, asking them to leave the probe to the National Bureau of Investigation to ensure impartiality.

Sinas earlier said 17 uniformed personnel – 10 from the PNP and seven from PDEA, were being “restricted” and under the custody of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group.

Based on the QCPD’s coordination form, 28 personnel led by a police major are involved in the operation, along with one confidential informant. It’s not clear whether the PNP and PDEA had the same informant and targets in their separate operations. The police operation would use eight vehicles — four motorcycles, two sedans, a pickup, and an SUV, according to the document.

CNN Philippines' Paolo Barcelon and Eimor Santos contributed to this report.