by Jel Santos
“Gusto namin ng hustiya (We want justice)!”
This was the cry of Lorenza Delos Santos, 43, mother of 17-year-old Kian Loyd Delos Santos who was killed by cops during an anti-illegal drugs operation in Caloocan City Wednesday.
The police claimed Kian, a Grade 11 student, was a drug runner and was killed after he allegedly resisted arrest. But Barangay 160 officials said Kian was not on their drug watch list.
Lorenza, an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) in Saudi Arabia, said she begged her employers on her knees to allow her to go home after learning about her son’s death. She arrived at 3 a.m. Friday.
“I cried so hard when I learned what happened to Kian. I kneeled in front of my boss, and begged her to allow me to return to the Philippines,” she narrated in between sobs.
“I work hard as a maid abroad just to send my children to school, because they have dreams. And this is what the police have done to one of my children,” Lorenza lamented.
Kian, she said, dreamed of becoming a cop.
“He wanted to be a cop. He has a dream. But little did he know that cops would end his life,” Lorenza added.
A 13-year-old witness interviewed by The Manila Bulletin said she saw Kian being punched and slapped by four policemen who were not in uniform that night but were all armed with guns.
“I saw them slap and punch Kian after frisking him. They found nothing on him that is why they were angry,” the witness said.
Kian reportedly pleaded with the cops: “Tama na po! Tama na po! May test pa ako bukas!”
The witness said the policemen grabbed and pulled him. The story was confirmed by a closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage of Barangay 160.
On CCTV, Kian was being manhandled by policemen as they passed by a basketball court.
But a police spot report released by the Caloocan Police stated that Kian resisted arrest by pulling out a gun and firing at policemen.
The witness said she followed where Kian was brought and heard of the policemen tell Kian to fire the gun. He was brought in a dead end lot where there was no light, she added.
“‘Ito ang baril. Iputok mo tapos tumakbo ka’ (Take this gun, fire it and run),” the witness recalled what the cops told Kian to do.
But Kian did not follow the order. He ran away.
“Doon po nakita ko na si Kian na tumatakbo. Pinagbabaril na po siya nun. Nanginginig po ako sa takot (I saw Kian ran and he was being shot at by the police. I was trembling with fear,” the witness narrated.
APPEAL TO THE PRESIDENT
The grieving mother aired an appeal: “President Duterte, please make sure that the police do not kill innocent persons. They killed my son like a pig.”
“We, too, do not want drugs. We support your campaign against illegal drugs but why is it that even the innocent are being killed?”
National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief Director Oscar Albayalde said the four policemen who accosted Kian – Police Chief Insp. Amor Cerilo, PCP-7 commander, PO3 Arnel Oares, PO1 Jeremiah Pereda, and PO1 Jerwin Cruz – were relieved from their posts yesterday and placed under restrictive custody pending investigation.
Caloocan Police chief Senior Supt Chito Bersaluna said the Delos Santos family can file a case in court if they feel there is injustice in Kian’s death.
The National Police Commission and the Commission on Human Right went to the crime scene yesterday and conducted separate investigations.
Philippine Natonal Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa has already ordered a probe over the Kian’s death and vowed not to leave no stone unturned.
“There will be an investigation. We will investigate those kinds of things and we will not let that go by. Imagine you will kill a young one?,” Dela Rosa said.
“I don’t want any abuses. That I want to make sure. I want police to be ruthless when it comes to operation when it comes to drugs but they should not abuse, they should not involved innocent persons. That’s what I want to happen,” Dela Rosa added.
Calling it shocking and worrisome, senators are seeing red and questioning why minors are getting killed in President Duterte’s war on drugs.
Senators Richard Gordon and Paolo “Bam” Aquino IV said they would push for a Senate probe into Kian’s death.
“I plan to file a resolution kasi nakababahala talaga iyong news reports. Hindi lang iyan, may lumalabas pa na may paglilinlang sa pagpaslang,” said Aquino in a statement.
Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara also supported the call for a Senate probe into the spate of killings.
“The body count is reaching alarming levels. We need to ensure that we are not creating killing machines. We need speedy justice machines, and ensure that we are strengthening our institutions like the courts, the police, the prosecutors,” Angara said.
“We need our people to believe in the justice system. Vigilante justice is not a systemic and long-term solution,” he added.
Gordon reminded the President that Filipinos voted for him because of his promise to resolve illegal drugs.
“But there’s such a thing as overkill. Everything must be done in balance,” Gordon said in an interview.
“Yang kaso ng 17- year-old iimbestigahan ko yan, may mga ebidensya eh. We must be fair. You cannot fight the drug menace by just killing. You must go to the source,” Gordon said.
“Instead of killing, you arrest the street pusher, and then ask: ‘Who’s your supplier?’, and when your arrest the supplier, ask: ‘who’s your source? So when you have these thousands (of suspects), you can create a tapestry…you can go on a voyage, even to the people who are abroad,”
“It’s worrisome, to say the least, coming even from somebody who in his previous lifetime as a law enforcer was a natural suspect in violating human rights of crime suspects that we used to pursue. Much as I do not want to preempt the investigations being conducted by PNP IAS and the DOJ, I want to remind them to be very fair and objective in conducting their probe to save whatever credibility is left in them brought about by the PSupt. (Marvin) Marcos et al controversy,” Sen. Panfilo Lacson stressed.
Lacson said it’s puzzling that the President’s passion in fighting illegal drugs is only aimed at demand reduction by killing drug pushers 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,” he said. (With reports from Kate Louise Javier, Francis T. Wakefield, and Hannah L. Torregoza)