Senator takes custody of Kian’s family, witnesses to killing
Minority senators rallied behind a snowballing move to seek justice for Kian Lloyd de los Santos, the 17-year-old killed by the police last week, claiming he was a drug runner.
Sen. Risa Hontiveros said on Sunday that with the help of an institution, her office had taken custody of the family of De los Santos, as well as witnesses to the boy’s slaying in Caloocan City that had sparked national outrage and calls for an investigation in the Senate.
Hontiveros, in text messages and in a radio interview, said her office was securing the family and the witnesses as they prepared for the legal battle to find justice for the Grade 12 student. This would include their appearance at an upcoming Senate inquiry into the recent spate of killings of drug suspects by the police.
The senator, who attended the boy’s wake on Saturday and met with his parents, said the family was being threatened.
“Our primary concern is the continued security and protection of the family and the witnesses who can help bring justice for Kian,” Hontiveros said. She said the family and the witnesses were ready “to tell the truth.”
His father’s victim
On Sunday, the Philippine National Police chief, Director General Ronald dela Rosa, told a television program that De los Santos was a drug courier of his father and uncles.
While Dela Rosa said he was “disappointed” that the boy was killed by the police he described the operation as “legitimate” because there was basis that De los Santos was “a source of drugs in the area.”
Dela Rosa said the boy was a “victim of his own father.”
The PNP chief said he had ordered his internal affairs service to investigate the killing, saying he did wish “an isolated case to diminish the PNP’s accomplishments.”
Hontiveros and Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV said they would support a Senate resolution to seek an inquiry into the killings of Kian and 80 drug suspects in the intensified campaign against the drug menace.
Trillanes and detained Sen. Leila de Lima scoffed at President Duterte’s order for an investigation of the boy’s killing.
“The chief investigator and mastermind of the daily carnage ordering a probe into the Kian killing? What a farcical joke!” De Lima said in a statement.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon urged Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II to remove Caloocan city prosecutor Darwin Cañete “for his manifest partiality and hostility” toward the victim.
Cañete said Kian might not be that innocent.
“The risk of prejudice is too great in the case of Cañete and this behooves the secretary of justice to intervene, if he is
intent on fulfilling his job of administering justice in this country,” Drilon said in a statement.
A witness to the killing has recounted to the Inquirer how three policemen opened fire at De los Santos, who was arrested outside a drug store. “He was pleading, ‘Wag po sir! Wag po sir! (Please don’t).’ But those men still fired at him,” the witness said, adding she was willing to testify on what she saw that night.
Vice President Leni Robredo on Sunday joined calls for an inquiry into the boy’s killing.
“What we want is an independent investigation, because, you know, if the parents are not confident with the kind of investigation conducted, it’s as if the case is not given closure, and what happened to Kian is still happening,” she said after attending the teenager’s wake at Barangay 160 in Caloocan.
The Department of Education (DepEd) also denounced De los Santos’ killing.
“While we acknowledge that law enforcement is an important aspect in the government’s comprehensive efforts to battle illegal drugs, ensuring accuracy of information and upholding the rule of law should not be compromised,” the DepEd said in a statement.
The Ateneo de Manila University senior high school student council called for public condemnation of De los Santos’ killing.
“We most strongly express our frustration and deep indignation against extrajudicial killings. We believe that anyone who values life, rule of law and due process, would instinctively share our deep outrage. For too long, we have failed to collectively express our unfathomable anger [at] the injustice brought about by the war on drugs,” it said.
The Child Rights Network (CRN) said: “The state should be made accountable for such blatant act of inhumanity committed against Kian and many others. CRN reminds the government that any efforts to pursue peace and order should never be at the expense of human rights and rule of law, and should always uphold the best interests of Filipino children.” —With reports from Nikko Dizon, Jerome Anng, Vince F. Nonato, and Lyn Rillon
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