May 24, 2018, 6:05 pm
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Senate sets hearing on Kian’s slaying

THREE cops allegedly involved in the killing of an 11th grader and the father of the slain boy will come face-to-face on Thursday when the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs holds a hearing on the controversial slaying that has stirred a hornet’s nest.

The three cops – PO3 Arnel Oares, PO1 Jeremiah Pereda and PO1 Jerwin Cruz, and Chief Insp. Amor Cerillo, commander of Police Community Precinct 7 in Caloocan, have been relieved and placed under restrictive custody. A police report identified Oares as having shot Kian delos Santos, the 17-year-old student of Our Lady of Lourdes College, in Caloocan Wednesday last week.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson, who chairs the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs, said Kian’s father, Saldy, has been invited to the hearing along with PNP chief Ronald dela Rosa, PNP-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group chief Director Roel Obusan, NCRPO chief Director Oscar Albayalde, several key witnesses under the custody of Sen. Risa Hontiveros, officials of Barangay 160 where the Delos Santos family lives, and barangay officials who have monitored the alleged killing via CCTV.

CCTV footages showed a person, supposedly Delos Santos, as being dragged by policemen into a dark alley where he was later found with three bullet wounds, including two in the head.

Lacson said he will send out notices to those who will be summoned to the hearing once the resolution is officially referred to his committee during the plenary session today.

Lacson made the announcement after the 17-member   majority bloc held a caucus Sunday night and signed a resolution condemning the killing of Delos Santos and several others who, he said, were victims of “recent spate of abuses resulting in excessive and unnecessary deaths in the conduct of the campaign against illegal drugs.”

The Senate resolution noted “similar incidents in the past that have happened in carrying out the campaign of the Duterte administration against illegal drugs.”

At least 81 persons were killed in Bulacan and Metro Manila last week under “one-time, big-time” anti-drug operations.

The resolution considered the eyewitness accounts and CCTV footage that belie the police allegations that Delos Santos fired at cops, prompting them to fight back.

The resolution said that Kian had “already (been) apprehended by the police” and was “forced to run with a gun” before he was shot. The resolution added that “similar incidents require deeper scrutiny to ensure the accountability of the PNP and its officers as they implement the campaign against illegal drugs.”

The senators said that conducting the campaign of the Duterte administration against illegal drugs, “the government must always ensure that no innocent lives are unnecessary lost” and that policemen should be held “fully accountable” for any crime or offense.

Sen. Grace Poe said killing drug suspects should not be seen as a “contest” among different police districts. If this would continue to be observed in the police ranks, Poe said the government would eventually lose the drug war.

Sen. Chiz Escudero called the killing of Delos Santos   “murder” based on the footages he was able to watch and eyewitness accounts.

The killing of Delos Santos has unified the six-man minority bloc and the 17-member of the majority bloc in expressing indignation over the rising number of victims in relation to Duterte’s war against illegal drugs.

Sen. Francis Pangilinan said the killing of 81 persons in anti-illegal drug operations in a matter of three days in Bulacan, Manila and the Camanava area is “a matter of national concern.”

Pangilinan said it is time for the Senate as an institution to uphold its constitutional check and balance function. Pangilinan expressed hopes that this sentiment of senators belonging to different political parties would reinforce the independence of the Senate.

Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon, in commemorating the 34th death anniversary of Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr., said Aquino’s sacrifice should not be dishonored by “trivializing human life.”

“If Ninoy were alive today, he would have been the first to speak against the bloodbath in the name of war on drugs,” he said. “If Ninoy were alive today, he would have condemned the death of a teenager, a son, a child, a mother, and a father. Ninoy valued life as much as he valued freedom.

“On the senate investigation, I support an investigation that is impartial. Thirty-four years ago, Marcos formed the Fernando Commission to investigate Ninoy’s death but was dissolved after two hearings because of perceived bias. I hope the Senate investigation to investigate Kian’s death will not only investigate the events that led to Kian’s death but to find the root cause and reexamine why Kian’s death and all other killings had to happen in the first place,” he added.

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian said he would file a bill requiring policemen to wear body cameras to collect video footage of all drug raids implemented by authorities.

Gatchalian, who pointed to the CCTV footage as potentially damning evidence against the police officers involved in the killing, said that recording video evidence of all anti-illegal drugs operations would be a powerful tool to ensure transparency and accountability in the execution of the government’s drug war.

“Footage collected from police body cams would provide concrete evidence to hold police scalawags administratively and criminally liable for violating their oath to serve and protect the people,” Gatchalian said.
 
DEMOLISHING PRESIDENCY?

Chief presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo yesterday said it is expected that some politicians and critics of President Duterte would ride on the issue of the death of Delos Santos but added the important thing is the public continues to believe and support the Chief Executive.

Panelo, in an interview on government-run   Radyo Pilipinas, said critics of the President would jump on any issue to demolish the presidency.

“It’s natural for them. It looks like, they will not stop, they are always like that. But they—we have, but people don’t believe that, that’s their problem. The people are angry at them, they do not believe them, they only believe the President,” he said.

Panelo also assured that Duterte would not tolerate any abuses by the police and proper investigations are being done to determine the truth behind the death of Delos Santos.

He said allegations that Delos Santos was a victim of extra judicial killing and that he was a drug runner would be looked into.

He added that if it were true that Delos Santos was a drug runner, it is still not right to kill him, unless he fought it out with authorities.
 
PNOY CALLS FOR PROBE

Former President Benigno Aquino III yesterday called for a thorough and proper investigation on the death of Delos Santos, saying that some reports about the incident were terrifying.

Aquino, in an interview at the commemoration of the death anniversary of his father, Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr., said one report that came out said the boy had been beaten and had even begged that he be released as he still has to attend school the following day.

He said if it were true, “nakakagimbal (terrifying).” 

“Ang trabaho natin bilang mamababatas, bilang pangulo ay kailangan ng imbestigasyong kaukulan para naman hindi haka-haka ang mangyari,” he said.  – With Jocelyn Montemayor
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