Ecumenical rights group calls for justice
An ecumenical human rights group described the killing of Grade 12 student Kian delos Santos by police during an illegal drugs operation on Wednesday as the sad result of a brutal campaign encouraged by President Rodrigo Duterte himself.
“It’s obvious that only the poor and the helpless suffer under the President’s war on drugs, while the root causes of what perpetuate drugs and poverty in this country remain unsolved,” said Nardy Sabino, convenor of the group Rise Up For Life And For Rights.
On Saturday, Caloocan Bishop Pablo David demanded justice for the 17-year-old in his homily and compared Delos Santos’ death to that of Raymart Siapo, who was killed in Navotas four months ago.
“The similarities are quite striking. The [police] say this and that person [was] involved in the drug trade, but why was he not on the drug watch list? That’s what happened to Raymart as well, only it was the vigilantes who killed him,” David said.
Caloocan police chief Senior Supt. Chito Bersaluna earlier said that Delos Santos was not on any drug watch list, but authorities on Friday changed their tune and said the 17-year-old was a runner for “Neneng” Escopino, a wanted drug suspect in the city.
Arsenio Evangelista, spokesperson for the group Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption, which has been very vocal in its support of Mr. Duterte, echoed the sentiment.
“While we continue to support the President’s campaign, we think that the war on drugs will fail if improper illegitimate police operations like this continue to happen,” Evangelista said.
In a statement, Sen. Risa Hontiveros also condemned the killing. “We should ask ourselves: Are we really like this as Filipinos—so bloodthirsty that it’s fine for us that a 17-year-old like Kian falls victim [in the war on drugs]?”
Caloocan City Mayor Oscar Malapitan meanwhile assured Delos Santos’ parents that he “would do everything in [his] power to help speed up the investigation.” —KRIXIA SUBINGSUBING
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