PNP fails to take custody of 2 child witnesses to Kian slay
Tension gripped San Roque Cathedral in Caloocan City on Saturday when the father of a minor, who with a cousin had seen the killing of 17-year-old Kian Loyd delos Santos by policemen, sought to remove the children from the protective custody of the city’s Roman Catholic bishop and turn them over to the police.
In the end, however, the father decided to join the children under the protection of Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, who was also taking in four siblings of the two witnesses.
David announced the resolution at a press briefing past 1 a.m. on Sunday after a whole day of argument involving the father, officers from the Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation Group (CIDG) and representatives from Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) and Commission on Human Rights (CHR).
Plot against war on drugs
The resolution came as Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II spoke about a “trend” of killing minors as part of a plot to undermine President Rodrigo Duterte’s fierce war on drugs, which, according to Sen. Risa Hontiveros, has killed 13,000 people since the start of the crackdown in June last year.
In a text message, Aguirre said he had directed the National Bureau of Investigation to look into Mr. Duterte’s remarks on Friday that the recent killings of teenagers could have been the handiwork of people who wanted to discredit the police.
Delos Santos was shot dead by policemen during a drug raid in Caloocan City on Aug. 16.
Police said they killed the Grade 12 student when he fired a .45 caliber pistol at them.
Two days later, policemen shot dead Carl Angelo Arnaiz, 19, also in Caloocan City.
Police claimed they killed Arnaiz in an exchange of gunfire after the former University of the Philippines student robbed a taxi driver.
The body of Arnaiz’s companion, 14-year-old Reynaldo de Guzman, was found in a creek in Gapan City, Nueva Ecija province, on Tuesday.
The minor witnesses to Delos Santos’ death were placed under the protection of the Church after they testified in the Senate last week.
The father of the witnesses, who was in jail at the time of the killing for a drug-related offense, was released on Saturday after the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) posted bail for him.
In a strongly worded letter, the father questioned David’s authority to provide protection for the children and demanded the kids’ turnover to the CIDG.
But the children and their mother, a migrant worker in Oman, resisted the turnover of the witnesses to the police.
The CHR stepped in to defuse the tension.
After a series of discussions that lasted up to late Saturday, the father relented and allowed David to give protection to the witnesses and decided to join them with his other children.
“My reading of it is that the children were able to persuade their father to stay,” David said.