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4 cops charged with Kian’s killing

CHARGED WITH MURDER Saldy and Lorenza delos Santos show the documents charging four policemen for the murder of their son, Kian, in a Caloocan City antidrug operation. —EDWIN BACASMAS

Public attorneys filed murder and torture charges against four policemen on Friday over the killing of 17-year-old Kian Loyd delos Santos in Caloocan City last Aug. 16.

The filing of the charges, which have yet to be approved by prosecutors, spurred Palace officials to warn lawmen that President Duterte’s war on drugs cannot be used as an excuse to break the law.

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Starting the process

At the same time, the Philippine National Police reminded the public that the four policemen have the right to be “presumed innocent” of killing the teenager.

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Delos Santos’ parents, Saldy and Lorenza, filed the charges at the Department of Justice (DOJ)  with the assistance of Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) Chief Persida Rueda-Acosta.

Charged were Caloocan City Station 7 head, Chief Insp. Amor Cerillo, PO3 Arnel Oares, PO1 Jeremiah Pereda and PO1 Jerwin Cruz and several John Does.

“The wheels of justice will turn now,” Acosta said, adding the complaint included the depositions of at least five witnesses as well as the official findings of an autopsy by PAO coroners.

“We hope this will be resolved expeditiously by the DOJ not more than 60 days from today,” she said, referring to the legal time frame prosecutors have to file the appropriate charges in court.

RALLY FOR KIAN Classmates and friends of slain 17-year-old Kian Loyd delos Santos attend Mass at Sta. Quiteria Parish in Caloocan City after a protest run. —NIÑO JESUS ORBETA

Sent on an errand

According to the complaint, Kian’s father said he asked his son to clean their sari-sari store around 7 p.m. of Aug. 16 because he had to go out to buy supplies for their store.

When the father returned an hour later, a fruit vendor told him that his son had been taken by the police.

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“I immediately went to Police Community Precinct 7 [at] Sta. Quiteria, Caloocan City. When I arrived at the police station, I asked if they arrested a Kian Loyd delos Santos, a minor.

“They told me that they [had] not arrested a person by that name,” Saldy said.

But when he returned home, he said several people were waiting at his house to tell him Kian had been found dead.

8 witnesses, 5 depositions

Acosta said the depositions were executed by five witnesses who claimed to have seen Kian being dragged, choked and punched by the policemen.

The five witnesses exclude the three others who were sequestered by Sen. Risa Hontiveros after a Senate probe of the incident on Thursday.

Acosta said the three witnesses could prove problematic because two of them are minors whose mother complained they were taken without her parental consent.

Acosta said she can dispense with the depositions of the three since the five other witnesses corroborate claims that Kian was intentionally killed.

Unintentional killing

Police, who claimed they were in search of another drug suspect, said they unintentionally killed Kian because he fired a gun at the lawmen.

Delos Santos was found dead in an alley with a gun in his left hand and the police presented a supposed drug dealer who claimed he had a transaction with the teenager on the day of the killing.

But the Delos Santos family said he had no weapon, was right-handed and security cameras showed policemen dragging a man matching delos Santos’ description toward the area where he was killed.

The three policemen admit they were the people shown in the video, but maintained they were escorting another suspect, not Delos Santos.

PAO and police pathologists, who did separate autopsies, agreed during the Senate hearing that Delos Santos was shot at close range while he was on the ground.

“It was cold-blooded murder,” Acosta said. “He was shot while kneeling down.”

Palace pivot

While opinion surveys showed public support for the government’s war on drugs, the killing of Delos Santos has boosted skepticism of the controversial antinarcotics campaign.

Even Malacañang toned down its frequent defense of the campaign and said “Kian’s case is a wake-up call for the need to reform government institutions, even law enforcement agencies.”

Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said Mr. Duterte had already voiced the need to reform government at the start of his campaign for the presidency.

“The President has clearly stated that the war against drugs is not a license to break the law,” he said.

“We hope this serves as a reminder to the PNP personnel to follow the established PNP policies and operational procedures; that their personnel are properly guided in the conduct of police operations, particularly in the adherence to the rule of law and due process,” he added.

Presumption of innocence

The PNP, however, asked the public to accord the accused Caloocan City policemen their right to be presumed innocent.

“The PNP welcomes the filing of criminal charges so that the police personnel involved can have their day in court and present their defense,” he said.

“Police personnel are still innocent unless proven otherwise by the court. Let us accord them their rights,” Carlos added.

“The Kian case does not represent the entire drug campaign of the PNP. The PNP will continue to support personnel who continue to be true to their mandate but will not tolerate any wrongdoing or illegal act by erring members,” he said.

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TAGS: extrajudicial killings, Kian delos Santos, Public Attorney’s Office, war on drugs
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