MANILA – The father of one of the children who witnessed the killing of 17-year-old Kian Loyd delos Santos in Caloocan City has sought the protective custody of Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David.
The move came about after the Philippine National Police (PNP) Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and representatives of Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC), bringing the father along, met David Saturday from around 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the San Roque Cathedral.
In a midnight press conference streamed by CBCP News in the wee hours Sunday, David said the father had initially asked – through a letter – for his children to be returned to his custody. Four of the children are under David’s care, as the siblings had joined the witness.
Custody had been transferred from the Senate to Bishop David after the witness was presented during the legislative inquiry into Kian’s death after a police anti-drug operation.
David told those in charge of the witness that he would agree to take custody provided he receives permission from the parents and guardians, which was duly given.
At the time, however, the witness’ father was in jail for a drug-related case and could not give his consent.
“The Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) bailed him out,” David said.
It was after his release that the father executed a statement demanding custody of his children.
David told the father that he recognized the man’s authority as a parent, and that he was willing to release the children.
“Ang pakiusap ko lang, ingatan niyo sila (All I ask is that you take care of them),” David told the father.
The Caloocan Bishop had also prepared a letter for the father to sign to acknowledge that David was turning over custody of the children to him.
At around 7:00 p.m., the children were brought to the cathedral by the nuns taking care of them. Also on hand were the father, the CIDG, the VACC lawyer, and a PAO lawyer assisting the children.
The children hugged their father, then the family huddled privately. David believed they also contacted the mother, who was working in Oman.
It was after the family meeting that they disclosed they no longer want to go with the CIDG, said David: “They wanted the Church to retain protective custody.”
At this point, the CIDG and VACC “reacted”. VACC’s lawyer then talked to the father, asking him to confirm what his decision was.
The father replied that he wanted to be with his children.
“There was a bit of tension,” David reported. The CIDG initially did not want to turn the father over, and tried to persuade him to leave the cathedral with the law enforcers.
“The children seemed to be wary of the CIDG,” David added.
“Finally, the father declared, ‘mas gusto ko sa simbahan ang sanctuary’ (I prefer to seek sanctuary of the Church)’,” David narrated. So he told the father to execute a statement indicating this was what he wanted.
The father did so, indicating he wanted to be released from CIDG’s custody and placed under the Church’s custody, through David.
“Everything was settled. The CIDG and VACC were decent about it,” the bishop narrated.
The father thanked the CIDG, VACC, and PAO for respecting his decision.
“I saw that the kids were able to persuade their father,” David said.
He added that he urged the father to join the San Roque Cathedral’s rehabilitation program.
“Addicts are not criminals. They are sick people,” David said.
The drug problem must be addressed as a health issue, he added.
Here’s video by News5’s Gary de Leon of Bishop David explaining what happened: