It has been a year since 17-year-old Kian delos Santos was killed in President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody “war on drugs” campaign. Filipinos on social media commemorated his death, sharing the hashtag “#RememberKian.”
Superficial Gazette, a Twitter account critical of the administration, claimed that more minors would lose their lives under the campaign as long as Duterte is in office.
One year ago, Duterte's PNP brutally murdered a high school boy for their own amusement. As if that wasn't bad enough, the DDS accused him of being a drug courier.
— Superficial Gazette ?? (@SuperficialGZT) August 16, 2018
User Vince Liban noted the date and estimated hour of Delos Santos’ death last year, saying, “This is not the change we want.”
Aug 16, 2017 | 8pm
At this hour, the Caloocan police were seen interrogating the 17y/o Kian delos Santos, accusing the kid of drug possesion, toying with him as he begs for his life & eventually killing him mercilessly while he ran.
— Vince Liban; ?️? (@vinceliban) August 16, 2018
Another social media user included the last words of Delos Santos before he was killed. He also shared some lyrics of Bamboo’s song “Tatsulok” that relates to the subject matter.
8PM – at this hour exactly last year:
“Tama na po! May test pako bukas!” – Kian delos Santos’ last words before he was shot multiple times by the police. #RememberKian, a 17-yr-old SHS student, and the many children and youth killed by Duterte’s drug war. pic.twitter.com/DSZOFh1FHg
— Gibby Gorres (@gibbygorres) August 16, 2018
Writer Irish Dizon appealed for the public to remember not just Delos Santos, but each child who was a victim in the drug war.
At 8 p.m. last year, Aug. 17, 2017, senior high school student Kian delos Santos was kicked into a gutter and shot multiple times by the police. #RememberKian and all the children and youth killed in the name of the President’s drug war. pic.twitter.com/OC6py7klCz
— Irish (@IrishDDizon) August 16, 2018
Others simply recalled the incident and called for justice that have yet to be served.
Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs has turned into a war against the people, especially the poor and the youth. This is a fight that we cannot lose. Let our hope for a better and safer future for our children be the fuel that propels us in our struggle for justice. #RememberKian
— Gio Tingson (@giotingson) August 16, 2018
As we #RememberKian, let's not forget to remember and mourn for all the other victims of the war on drugs. Those whose names never made it to our newspapers or television screens. Those innocent and meaningful lives reduced to statistics. Those who were robbed of their tomorrows.
— Isko (@iskolarspeaks) August 16, 2018
Gone too soon
On the night of Aug. 16, 2017, Kian delos Santos was shot by the Caloocan police in a one-time, big-time drug operation conducted in Barangay 160 of the region, as seen in a video footage.
The boy was accused of being a drug courier, a claim that has been heavily denied by his father and other accounts.
Police claimed that Delos Santos was armed but a CCTV footage and eyewitnesses’ accounts indicate otherwise. Evidence also showed that cops gave him a gun and ordered him to run before they shot him dead.
The Children’s Legal Rights and Development Center noted that Delos Santos was not the first nor the last child killed in the drug war.
“We have documented at least 54 cases since July 2016 until August 2017. Kian was actually the 54th case. So it’s not an isolated case,” executive director Rowena Legaspi said in an interview.
Most of the recorded incidents, she said, involved riding-in-tandem vigilantes. However, Delos Santos’ case was the most controversial, having been recorded by security camers and involving policemen who insisted on their innocence.
Minors who have been implicated in the “war on drugs” campaign was described by former Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre as “collateral damage.”
Other young victims
In August 2016, five-year-old Danica May Garcia was shot by a stray bullet after two men barged into their house in Pangasinan.
The bullet was meant for her grandfather, who had surrendered to authorities four days prior to the incident. Garcia was described by her relatives as a happy, kind and obedient kid who was a jokester.
Toward the end of the month in the same year, another minor died in the bloody campaign.
Four-year-old Althea Barbon got shot by the police who were chasing her father, who was a suspected drug dealer in Negros Oriental.
According to the authorities, they didn’t see the minor with her father since both of them were riding a motorcycle. The police attacked from behind.
In December 2016, five-year-old Francisco Mañosca died alongside his father in Pasay City. Mañosca’s father was an alleged drug dealer in the area.
Elizabeth Mañosca, Francisco’s mother, said in an interview that seeking justice for her son’s death was futile. “It’s useless, it would not bring back my son’s life,” she remarked.
There are several more minors who were reported victims in the campaign. As of December 2017, Amnesty International cited that “as many as 60 children” have already lost their lives since June 2016.
Duterte warned in his third State of the Nation Address that the drug war would continue to be “relentless and chilling” when he had first implemented it.