Murder, torture raps filed vs Caloocan cops

THE family of Kian Loyd Delos Santos filed on Friday, August 25, murder and torture charges against the policemen accused of shooting the 17-year-old during a drug operation in Barangay 160, Caloocan City.

Public Attorney's Office (PAO) Chief Persida Acosta accompanied the victim's parents and "Choleng," the fourth witness in the shooting, during the filing of the criminal complaints for murder and torture at the Department of Justice (DOJ).

Named respondents in the cases were Police Office (PO) 3 Arnel Oares, PO1 Jeremias Pereda, PO1 Jerwin Cruz, relieved Caloocan precinct commander Chief Inspector Amor Cerillo and several John Does.

The parents of Kian, Zaldy and Lorenzana, personally subscribed to their complaint affidavit before Assistant State Prosecutor Tofel Austria.

Acosta said she will ask Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II to place the witnesses under the DOJ's Witness Protection Program.

Probers said the 11th grader was kneeling with his face down when police officers killed him.

The National Bureau of Investigation, the Commission on Human Rights and the Senate are conducting their separate probes into Delos Santos' death.

Delos Santos' death sparked protest from the human rights advocates, militant groups and the church, with many urging President Rodrigo Duterte to stop his administration's bloody war on drugs.

The President responded to criticisms by assuring the public that those who killed the teener would be put to jail if found guilty.

'Callamard says it's murder'

United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions Agnes Callamard took to Twitter to describe as "murder" the slay of Delos Santos by police officers in an anti-drug operation in Caloocan City.

Callamard said Delos Santos' autopsy results only proved a "massive, government-led, human rights crisis" in the Philippines under the watch leadership of President Duterte.

"Yes, [President] Duterte, this (Delos Santos’ case) is murder. All unlawful deaths must be investigated to stop all murderers [in the] Philippines," she said.

However, Malacañang declined to make assumptions that the killing of the 11th grader was murder, saying it was best to wait for the results of the investigation before giving any statement regarding the issue.

"There is an ongoing investigation so we will have to wait for the results of proper authorities investigating," said Communications Assistant Secretary Omar Alexander Romero.

"Until there is a finding by a competent court that it is murder, then we can agree. But we look forward to the results of the impartial investigation of this incident," he added.

On Wednesday, Duterte repeated his stern warning to policemen not to kill a criminal "begging for his life" as it can be considered as murder.

The President said the police officers may have committed criminal act during a drug raid in Caloocan that resulted in the teener's death.

He also admitted that the teenager's killing, which he said was "really bad," was a bad precedent of policemen's unlawful performance of duty.

"I am not justifying [Delos Santos' slay] in Caloocan. It was really bad. That’s not an example of performance of duty. Do not commit a crime," Duterte said. "You are not allowed to kill a person kneeling down, begging for his life. That is murder."

'Kian's death a wake-up call'

In a statement released Friday, Abella said the war on illegal drugs "is not a license to break the law."

Abella said police officers carrying our operations against drug offenders should abide by the rule of law and due process.

He said the death of Delos Santos should serve as a "wake-up call" to members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) as the current administrations continues its fight against narcotics trade.

"Kian's case is a wake-up call for the need to reform government institutions; even law enforcement agencies -- a challenge that the President voice from the beginning of his campaign for the presidency," the presidential spokesperson said.

"We hope this (Delos Santos' case) 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.

Despite the incident, Abella said the government would not be deterred to end the drug proliferation by pushing for a "relentless" drug war. (SunStar Philippines)


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