MANILA, Philippines – Sen. Joel Villanueva on Thursday criticized the police for using social media as sole basis to confirm an accuser’s claim that slain Caloocan Grade 11 student Kian Loyd delos Santos was involved in illegal drugs.
Villanueva, during the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs’ inquiry into Delos Santos death and the Philippine National Police (PNP)’s anti-drug operations, could not hide his dismay after relieved Caloocan police chief Senior Superintendent Chito Bersaluna testified that authorities had relied on social media to validate allegations against Delos Santos.
The senator quizzed Bersaluna whether using social media to check on the background of suspected drug users and dealers was part of the PNP’s investigation process.
“Hindi ho ako magulang ni Kian, pero no’ng narinig ko ‘yon…Eto po ba, how many operations are based on social media? Eh kasama po ba ito sa proseso na sinusunod ng PNP?” Villanueva asked Bersaluna.
[I am not Kian’s parent but when I heard that…How many operations are based on social media? Is this included in the process being followed by the PNP?]
The sacked police officer reiterated his testimony that he was able to corroborate the information he received from “Nono” about Delos Santos through social media.
“Bale Sir, ‘yong pagkasabi ko po ay na-ano ko kay alias Nono and nakikita ko na rin sa social media, Sir,” Bersaluna told Villanueva.
[What I said was I also saw on social media the information I gathered from alias Nono.]
Bersaluna was referring to Renato “Nono” Loveras, who earlier alleged that he had drug transactions with Delos Santos and that the shabu supposedly being supplied to him by the Grade 11 student came from a certain Neneng Escopin.
Villanueva also pointed out to Bersaluna that the intelligence report on the activities of suspected drug-linked persons should be based on thorough and objective investigation and not just on social media.
“Don’t base everything on social media. Kaya nga po kanina, binabanggit natin, importante ‘yong intelligence report [That’s why we mentioned that intelligence report is important],” the lawmaker said.
“Kaya nga po ‘yong report, nilagyan ng intelligence para siguraduhin na merong laman ‘yong intelligence,” added Villanueva.
[That’s why intelligence is added to the report to make sure that it contains intelligence.]
Earlier, during the hearing, Sen. Manny Pacquiao asked how Bersaluna was able to confirm that what Loveras had said of Delos Santos was true.
Bersaluna replied that authorities verified it via social media, which he admitted was “our only basis.”
“We also based on ano Sir, doon sa lumalabas na mga ano do’n sa mga social media na meron ding nagsasabi. ‘Yon lang po ang basis namin, Sir,” the relieved police officer said.
Bersaluna also testified that authorities only knew about Delos Santos’ alleged drug involvement a day after the student was killed on August 16 when police arrested Loveras.
“We only happened to know the involvement of the late Kian because PCP (Police Community Precinct) 7 arrested the day after ‘yong alias “Nono”…(H)e revealed that he knew the activities of Kian. So that’s the time that we knew the involvement of Kian,” Bersaluna told the Senate panel.
Pacquiao also asked sacked Northern Police District chief Senior Supt. Roberto Fajardo whether Delos Santos was involved in drug transactions.
Fajardo replied, “Yes, Sir,” and said that he had confirmed it by checking Kian’s background after he was killed.
Pacquiao then asked if this meant that they did not know that Delos Santos was involved in drugs before the police conducted operations against him.
To this, Fajardo replied, “‘Yon pong makakasagot ay operating units [It is the operating units that can answer that].”
Police claimed that Delos Santos was killed in a shootout in Caloocan, but CCTV footage from the barangay and witnesses revealed that he was defenseless when he died.
Representatives from the Public Attorney’s Office also said during the Senate hearing that their forensic examination showed that Delos Santos was “nakasubsob” (face down), with one shooter standing near his feet, and another near the left side of the adolescent’s body.
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