LAST week, President Duterte met with the parents of Kian Loyd delos Santos, the 17-year-old victim of a brutal killing by a team of policemen in Caloocan City. The president assured the grieving parents that justice will be served their son’s death.
Last Wednesday, the president also met with the parents of another victim of senseless violence, again in the hands of Caloocan city policemen. Carl Angelo Arnaiz was a former UP student who, the police claimed, engaged them in a shootout after he robbed a taxi driver. The claim is, however, debunked by testimonial and forensic evidence. Mr. Duterte promised his parents an impartial investigation.
On the same day that the president met with Arnaiz’s parents, the body of Carl’s 14-year-old friend was found floating in a creek in Nueva Ecija. The body bore multiple stab wounds. I’m afraid the president has another wake to attend or at least another set of parents to meet.
There is nothing wrong in the president’s condoling with grieving parents. In fact, it is a very admirable gesture. But how long will this have to continue? How many more lives will have to be lost before success can be claimed in this government’s war on drugs?
In both Kian’s and Carl’s cases, brutality attended their killing. Kian’s wounds showed that he was shot from behind, indicating that the policemen who fired at him were never in any danger of injury, much less, death. Karl’s body bore bruises, belying police claims that he died in a shootout. And from the initial reports, it appears that the 14-year-old stab victim found in Nueva Ecija was mercilessly killed. Reynaldo de Guzman was last seen alive with Karl. Could their killers have been the same?
The Philippine National Police chief, Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, is sensitive to allegations that killing of suspects is a PNP policy. He took umbrage when a senator dared ask that question. He cried, too.
While I am inclined to believe him, Bato still has a lot of explaining to do. Why are all these killings taking place? And why do the police always surface in the investigation as possible suspects? What steps has he taken to prevent them? Unless he answers these questions satisfactorily, suspicions that his organization is harboring killers will continue to linger. Tears will not wipe these doubts away.
The Liberal Party has admonished a congressman member for endorsing the impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno. But the party has not taken a stand on the issue yet. Maybe, Samar Rep. Edgar Sarmiento could not wait anymore and decided to take matters into his own hands. Either that or he believes that Sereno should be impeached, regardless of what the LP thinks.
The more significant issue is the steep rise in impeachment complaints filed in the House of Representatives. It looks like the itch to impeach has reached epidemic proportions. An authority in political law once described impeachment as a “rusted blunderbuss, seldom brandished and hardly ever used.” Not so in the Philippines. It’s more fun here.