By Florangel Rosario Braid
It had to take the shooting of teenager Kian Loyd De los Santos by policemen during an Oplan Galugad operation in Barangay 160 to finally awaken the nation. That we, its citizens, now finally realize that we must do something to put an end to these senseless killings. The war against drugs has been allowed to continue, albeit, accompanied by subterfuge and several extrajudicial killings because of failure to find an alternative solution. As San Beda Law Human Rights advocates aptly pointed out, “the war on drugs is not the solution – it is the problem.”
Rappler reports about Kian’s family and neighbors asking only one question: “Why in the world would police kill such a sweet boy?” During the wake, neighbors, classmates, human rights groups, and even Vice President Leni Robredo and former Vice President Jojo Binay and Senator Risa Hontiveros came to pay their respects to the family. The latter offered protection and security to family and witnesses. From friends and neighbors, Rappler gathered a number of stories about how they remembered him – a kind, thoughtful, loving boy; always ready to help other people. He dreamt of becoming a policeman but this was not to be as he became the nth victim of a drug raid led by policemen. They not only accused him of being a runner, a drug carrier, but they also said he was doing it for his father and uncle who were drug pushers.
The shooting encounter was in a dark alley near his home. The CCTV footage obtained by Kian’s father showed that he was dragged from one alley to another, past a basketball court and into a dead-end corner where he was asked to run with a gun. When he did, he was shot. A witness noted that Kian was blindfolded as he was asked to identify other drug pushers. He begged for his life but this fell on deaf ears. He died wearing a blue shirt and printed boxer shorts. His body was found in a fetal position with a gun in his left hand. His father said that this detail alone, could attest to his son’s innocence since he was not left-handed. An autopsy confirmed this fact about the gun found in his left hand. The autopsy further indicated that he was shot in the back and behind the ears. These findings only aggravated the pain felt by family and friends. A policeman claimed that they recovered a .45-caliber hand gun and two sachets of suspected shabu from the victim. The police said Kian resisted arrest which was why he was shot while escaping.
Over the past month, 81 people have been killed in police operations all over the country. But last week was the deadliest.
A poem, “The Boy Who Died in my Alley” by American modern writer Gwendolyn Brooks, perhaps best captures a public response similar to that which befell Kian Loyd. As a critic noted, the poet acknowledges a sorrowful and determined responsibility for the death of the boy, and in so doing, teaches each of us the tragic consequences of “knowledgeable unknowing,” of ever failing to act against oppression and violence:
I never saw his face at all.
I never saw his future fall.
But I have known this Boy.
I have always heard him deal with death.
I have always heard the shout, the volley.
I have closed my heart-ears late and early.
And I have killed him ever.
How many more would experience a fate similar to that of Kian’s? How many more?
My email, Florangel.firstname.lastname@example.org