Aguirre gets flak in House for downplaying killing of Kian
Lawmakers in the House of Representatives on Wednesday scored Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre for downplaying the killing of 17-year-old Kian Delos Santos as being “blown out of proportion” by the media.
During the House hearing on the proposed 2018 budget of the Department of Justice (DOJ) and its attached agencies, Aguirre faced the ire of agitated lawmakers who were not pleased with his statements downplaying the killing of the Grade 12 student.
In response to Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman’s question on the need to create an independent commission to look into the drug war’s summary killings, Aguirre said there would be no need, citing Kian’s death as an “exemption‘ that showed that there was “abuse on the part of the policemen.”
Aguirre later said the media coverage of Kian’s death was “blown out of proportion.”
“Blown out in the media out of proportion,” Aguirre said. “Kaya akala mo napakalaki na. Isa lang siya sa thousands na pang-aabuso ng pulis kung talagang may-pang aabuso.”
(“That’s why you think it’s so big. It’s just one of thousands of case of police abuse, if there was indeed abuse.”)
“With thousands of killings relative to legitimate operation parang lumalabas itong kay Kian was the only exception to the rule eh,” he went on. “Kasi napakarami ng nangyayaring killing na ganyan, pero ang pang-aabuso ng pulis hindi napupruwebahan sa iba katulad ng dito kay Kian.”
(““With thousands of killings relative to legitimate operation, it appears that Kian’s case was the only exception to the rule. That’s because there have been so many killings like that, but police abuse has not been proven unlike in the case of Kian.”)
“Alam niyo po, kaya sinabi kong isolated itong kay Kian, sapagkat ito lamang po ang very clear na sinadya ng mga pulis ang pagpatay,” he added.
(“You know, the reason I say that Kian’s case is an isolated one is because it’s the only one where it’s very clear that the police deliberately committed a killing.”)
His statement did not sit well with Kabataan Rep. Sarah Elago, prompting a heated exchange between the two officials.
As youth representative, Elago lamented Aguirre’s statement downplaying Kian’s death as a mere “casualty” in a war waged against drugs,
“Hindi kanais-nais yung isolated statement,” Elago said. “I can’t help but think that the good secretary has been living under the rock tungkol sa mga kaso na ito, na nangyayari sa kasamaang palad di lamang sa kabataan, maski sa menor de edad at mga bata bata po.”
(“His isolated statement is very unacceptable. I can’t help but think that the good secretary has been living under the rock in relation to these cases, which have been happening, unfortunatley, not only to young people, but even minors who are very young.”)
Aguirre shot back at Elago and what he called other “partial” critics of the war on drugs that they seem to be riding on the issue of Kian’s death to vilify the administration, when they were quiet following the massacre of a family Bulacan in the hands of a drug addict.
“I sympathize with you, being the representative of Kabataan,” Aguirre said. “Pero di lamang natin tingnan ang biktima na mga kabataan sa war on drugs. Yung mga ginawang pagpatay, pag-rape sa mga kabataan ay walang – masyado naman kayong tahimik.”
(“But let’s not just look at the young victim’s of the war on drugs. The killings, the rape of young girls – you have been too quiet.”)
“Anong ginawa ng mga taong yan na nakikisimpatiya, kunyare kay Kian, anong ginawa nila nung pinatay pamilya sa Bulacan? May dumalaw ba sa inyo dun? Wala, sapagkat iisa din lamang ang nakikita niyo,” he added.
(“What did the people sympathizing with Kian do when a family was killed in Bulacan? Did anyone visit them? Nobody, because you can only see one thing.”)
Aguirre said the drug war President Rodrigo Duterte had been waging would have casualties regardless of age.
“Pag giyera, talagang hindi mo maiiwasan magkaroon ng collateral damage,” he said. “I’m sorry to state – talagang colleteral damage. It could be an adult or a child, pero yan po ay nangyayari sa isang malawakang kampaniya sa drugs.”
(“In a war, you can’t avoid having collateral damage. I’m sorry to state – real collateral damage. It could be an adult or a child, but that’s what happens in an all-out campaign against drugs.”)
“Yung mga drug addicts na nagre-rape, pumapatay ng mga kabataan as young as one-year-old, may ginawa ba kayong panawagan? Nag-express ba kayo ng righteous indignation? Wala po. Kung pag lamang ay patayan o krimen ay pwede niyong ilapit ang pangulo, saka lamang kayo nag-iingay eh,” he added.
(“With drug addicts who commit rape, kill young people as young as one-year-old, did you make any call? Did you express righteous indignation? No. Only when the killing or crime is one you can link to the President, that’s only when you start making noise.”)
Tinio slams Aguirre
Act Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio took the cudgels for his colleague. Without being recognized by the chairperson, Tinio spoke through the microphone and slammed Aguirre for making hasty generalizations about critical lawmakers.
Tinio said it should be Aguirre who should tell the lower chamber what the Department of Justice had done to go after the killers in the Bulacan massacre.
“Parang tinutukoy niya ang buong House of Representatives ano ba ang ginawa sa Bulacan massacre,” Tinio said. “Ang tanong ko po sa inyo: Ano po ang ginawa niyo? Kayo ang law enforcement executive. Kayo ang may pangunahing tungkulin. Kayo po ang unang sumagot dun. Huwag niyo pong ibalik sa amin.”
(“He seems to be referring to the whole House of Representatives, asking us what we did in the Bulacan massacre. My question to you is: What did you do? You are the law enforcement executive. You are the one who has the primary duty. It’s you who should answer the question. Don’t return the question to us.”
Tinio slammed Aguirre for seeming to lump together all critics of the war on drugs with the so-called “dilawan,” the allies of the previous administration, in a deliberate attempt to put a political color in any forms of criticism.
Tinio then slammed Aguirre for seeming to downplay the death of a minor who was killed in the administration’s brutal narcotics crackdown.
“Medyo nababahala kami sa ibang statements niyo na parang minamaliit niyo po ang nangyari kay Kian,” Tinio said. “Sinasabi niyo overblown, pinapalaki, isolated incident. Ang usapin dito: Isang inosenteng batang pinatay. Kaya kailangan po ng hustisiya.”
(“We are somewhat worried about your other statements in which you seem to be belittling what happened to Kian. You says it’s overblown, made to appear big, an isolated incided. The issue here is: An innocent boy was killed. That’s why we seek justice.”)
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman intervened and castigated Aguirre for berating members of the House, considering that they would be the one who would eventually vote on the DOJ’s proposed 2018 budget.
“I would advise resource persons not to castigate members of the House for valid and searching questions,” Lagman said. “It’s not proper. It’s not right. You come here to ask for the approval of your budget, and yet you try to castigate members of the House who ask valid and searching questions.”
Aguirre eventually apologized, saying: “If I’ve offended the sensibilities of some members, I’m very sorry.”
The DOJ and its attached agencies have a proposed 2018 budget of P17.28 billion. /atm
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