Police kill three in Tondo raid a day after drug war removed from PNP

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 28) — Manila Police District personnel killed three alleged drug suspects, a day after the national police force was ordered to halt their anti-drug operations, officials said.

The police report, obtained by CNN Philippines on Tuesday, detailed how three men were killed by members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) during a drug buy-bust operation on the afternoon of October 11.

This was a day after President Rodrigo Duterte signed the order stripping the PNP of their lead role in the drug war and turning this over to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).

The anti-drug operation in an alley in Sta. Barbara St. in Tondo, Manila led to the deaths of three men whom police said had fired back at them.

The police said they were able to make drug dealings with the suspects through an operative. They said 60-year-old Rolando Arellano "sensed the presence of a police operative where he ordered his two cohorts to fire shot towards the operatives."

"Thereafter, exchange of gunfire ensued," the report said.

Police said the firefight left the three suspects "fatally wounded." The suspects were declared dead on arrival at the Gat Andres Bonifacio Memorial Hospiital in Tondo, Manila.

Suspected shabu sachets and three gun pistols were seized from the suspects, police added.

However, security footage obtained by international news agency Reuters tells another story.

The security footage with date stamp October 11, showed one of the police officers turning a CCTV camera away from the crime scene. An investigative report by Reuters said a witness told them the three men were executed and not, as the police claim, shot in self-defense.

Reuters earlier reported the police were paid per drug suspect killed.

Manila Police District Superintendent Erwin Margarejo said they will conduct an "in-depth investigation."

"We will conduct an in-depth investigation regarding the said incident, but of course due process of law  and presumption of regularity in the conduct of our police operational procedures will be followed. And if evidence warrants against those personel involved we will file the necessary charges against them," he said.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, meanwhile, said the government is validating the CCTV footage. He added the policemen responsible would be punished.

"We are in the process of authenticating the video. I assure you the President will not tolerate any abuses that may be committed by some personnel of PNP," he said.

Police data showed they held 76,863 drug-related operations from July 1, 2016 to September 26, 2017, resulting in the death of 3,906 drug personalities and the arrest of 113,932. Human rights groups claim tens of thousands have died in alleged extrajudicial killings.

Duterte ordered the PDEA to take over the drug war from the Philippine National Police on October 10, amid allegations of abuses and extrajudicial killings, including the death of teenagers Kian Delos Santos, Carl Arnaiz, and Reynaldo De Guzman.

CNN Philippines correspondent Gerg Cahiles contributed to this report.