Senators pan killing of high school student in Caloocan anti-drug ops
In a series of tweets, Senator JV Ejercito, a member of the Senate majority bloc, described the killing of Kian Loyd Delos Santos as “very, very disturbing,” as he stressed that footages gave a clear picture that the victim was murdered.
“The killing of 17 year-old Kian Lloyd Delos Santos in the latest on war against drugs is very very disturbing,” Ejercito said over Twitter, unedited.
“Seventeen year-old Kian Delos Santos is age of my eldest son. I feel for the father while watching the video. Sakit nito (This is painful)!” he added.
Delos Santos, a Grade 11 student, died after he was shot during a police operation in Barangay (village) 160 on Wednesdaynight. Police claimed he resisted authorities and allegedly fired at them. But witnesses and security footages obtained by the media depict a different scenario.
They said two policemen in plain clothes suddenly grabbed Delos Santos, blindfolded him, before they shot the minor. Witnesses said they saw the unarmed Delos Santos crying and pleading to the police not to shoot him.
Later the police said they found two sachets of “shabu” (methamphetamine hydrochloride) and a caliber .45 in his possession. Delos Santos’ family vehemently denied that the victim was a drug user or a pusher.
Ejercito said the policemen involved in the killing should face charges. “Those policemen should be charged. Nakakagalit panoorin,” he said.
Senator Joel Villanueva also expressed alarm over what he called the “breakdown of our humanity, with people cheering the killings of individuals who have not been proven guilty.”
“Saw this video report and what appears to be a lousy and terrible police operation. Again, WE CANNOT ALLOW LAWLESSNESS in this country #vigilance,” Villanueva also posted on Twitter.
Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero, meanwhile, shared the same observation that the incident was a clear case of murder.
“The CCTV footage and eyewitness account clearly show that the boy was killed. The police officers involved are not only abusive, they are killers and criminals,” he said.
Senator Sonny Angara, too, called the incident alarming as the victim, he said, clearly had “no involvement in drugs whatsoever.”
“People lost faith in justice system because of its snail pace, possibility of money-buying justice. This is the problem but EJKs (extrajudicial killings) is not a solution,” Angara said.
“To the many who condemn EJKs let’s not stop there; let’s work towards reforming our justice system. No to vigilante justice and killings and yes to reforms of police, courts, prosecution,” he said.
Escudero called on President Rodrigo Duterte and Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa to act swiftly on the case “because the poor boy was not even an addict much less a pusher.”
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said he will call for a Senate probe into Delos Santos’ killing.
“Based on the video evidence presented so far in the media, it is quite possible that he was murdered by the policemen who accosted him. A Senate investigation is therefore necessary to establish the true facts, and to ensure that the integrity of the PNP remains intact,” Gatchalian said in a statement.
“While I continue to support the government’s campaign against drugs, it is imperative that we take all necessary steps to ensure that police impunity will never become the status quo in the Philippines,” he said.
Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, chair of the Senate committee on public order, said if the PNP’s Internal Affairs Service (IAS) would “cover up (the incident) as in the case of Supt. Marcos,” the Senate will exercise its oversight authority and conduct a separate inquiry.
The former police chief also questioned the President’s passion in the drug war, which was only aimed at killing drug pushers but “but evidently wanting in the supply constriction effort.”
“Having said that, I wonder why he’s not hitting hard on the Customs people responsible, directly or indirectly for the apparent free flow into the country of tons of high grade meth coming from China? That, for the life of me, I can’t understand,” Lacson said.
Senator Richard Gordon, who chairs the powerful blue ribbon committee, said he would call for an investigation on the incident.
“We must be fair. You cannot fight the drug menace by just killing. You must go to the source,” he said in an interview.
Gordon also advised President Duterte, “as a friend, to restrain himself” as it puts pressure on the police to carry out more killings in the name of the government’s drug war.
“Even in war there are rules. Kaya nga ‘pag ang sundalo qualified na o hindi makalaban, you don’t just kill him. Drugs is the enemy and this is war but do it within the rules,” he said.
In a separate statement over Twitter, Gordon said: “(PNP IAS) you must act swiftly. People need to be assured. Justice must be done. Do not protect these PNP murderers. Senate will act.”
Duterte’s staunch critic Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, on the other hand, said he would request for an all-Senators caucus on Tuesday next week to bring the issue to the fore.
“Sobra na. Maling mali na talaga to (This is too much. This is really wrong). I cannot, in conscience, let this pass. The Senators should have a united stand to stop this,” Trillanes said.
Another minority senator, Risa Hontiveros also condemned the killing.
“This butchery does not deserve a pat-on-the-back from the President. It deserves an investigation”, she said. “Duterte commending 32 deaths and dismissing innocent lives lost as collateral damage reinforce impunity among our state forces,” she added.
Senator Loren Legarda also said that while she supports the administration’s drug war, the government should protect its people.
“We must protect our children and the citizenry from acts of impunity waged by some police and vigilantes,” Legarda said.
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