MANILA – The killing of 17-year-old student Kian Delos Santos was not prevailing practice among law enforcers in carrying out the administration’s anti-illegal drug war, but only an “exception to the rule,” Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said.
“Lumalabas itong kay Kian is only the exception to the rule … kasi napakaraming killings na ang nangyayari (It appears to be only the exception … because there have been so many killings),” Aguirre told lawmakers at the briefing of their proposed budget for 2018.
Aguirre said the case was “blown out of proportion in the media.”
“You’d think this is such a big deal, but it’s just one instance in thousands … Let’s wait for the investigation to be finished before we make any conclusion,” he said.
Aguirre disclosed that the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is investigating the incident.
Asked by ACT Teachers partylist Rep. Antonio Tinio to expound, Aguirre elaborated: “This was the first time that a policeman was caught red-handed in a killing. There are thousands of killings, but it’s only now that there is a cctv recording that tends to indicate this could be a case of murder.”
The Justice Secretary also criticized “some quarters” for keeping the witnesses in the Delos Santos case.
“Some witnesses are being kept by certain persons not authorized to do so … We could even say they are being partial and biased,” he said.
“That is not going to look good for the credibility of the witnesses, who would be speaking up after being kept for several days,” he added.
Over the weekend, Senator Risa Hontiveros disclosed that several witnesses are under her custody.
“My office took custody of the witnesses and began ensuring their safety. Another institution is also helping,” Hontiveros revealed in a statement.
However, the NBI clarified that the three witnesses under Hontiveros’ custody are presently executing their respective affidavits on the case.
Rep. Tinio said he could not accept Aguirre’s statement that Delos Santos’ case was isolated amid the thousands of individuals killed in anti-drug operations.
He said the DOJ has no basis in saying this, especially after Aguirre’s statement that the NBI is investigating only 30 cases of alleged extra judicial killings.
Meanwhile, Aguirre said he does not favor the proposal of Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman to create an independent commission that will look into the killings.
“I believe that the supposed extra judicial killings on the part of the police are the exception. It is only this Kian delos Santos killing where it appears that there is an abuse on the part of the policemen, so at this stage, it is my humble submission that such independent commission is not necessary.
In response to the request of these witnesses and their families, and even the family of Kian, to protect them from the threats that they have been receiving, Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros, Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David and Atty. Minerva “June” Ambrosio, currently the head of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines’ (IBP) National Center for Legal Aid and legal counsel for the witnesses on Wednesday met with representatives of the Office of the Ombudsman, Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) regarding the testimonies of the key witnesses to the killing of Kian Loyd Delos Santos.
“Because two of the key witnesses are minors, we devoted the necessary time to arrange the infrastructure necessary to comply with the rules on examination of child witnesses and ensure their best interest as children,” Senator Hontiveros said.
The chairman of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP)-Episcopal Commission on the Laity, Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, condemned “the killing spree perpetrated in the name of war against drugs. There is more criminality now – and worse, done in the name of the law! Down with the culture of impunity. You will answer to God.”
Click and watch this video report below: