PHILIPPINE National Police chief Ronald dela Rosa on Sunday sought to discredit Grade 11 student Kian Loyd delos Santos, who was shot dead in a police operation in Caloocan City last week, saying he bought drugs for his father and some uncles.
Under fire for the death of the 17-year-old, Dela Rosa cited information from the police chief of Caloocan City, who was sacked Saturday over the shooting, after CCTV footage showed the boy being dragged into an alley where he was told to hold a gun then shot dead.
Dela Rosa added that Delos Santos’ father, Saldy, was known to be a neighborhood tough, which was why residents in their barangay were afraid to speak against him.
Saldy denied the police accusations, however.
“They are capable of fabricating stories. They are capable of destroying the lives of upright citizens,” he told ABS-CBN News in Filipino.
Dela Rosa, on the other hand, said he was dismayed that the teenager was killed, but insisted that the operation was legitimate, based on the information that Kian was the source of drugs in the neighborhood.
He said Kian was a victim of his father, and could have turned his life around had he lived.
The PNP Internal Affairs Service is investigating the case, and the city’s police chief, Sr. Supt. Chito Bersaluna and the three policemen involved in Delos Santos’ death have been relieved.
In an interview with radio dzMM, Saldy said his family and witnesses received threats after they said Kian was dragged by policemen, given a gun and told to run before he was shot dead.
“My enemies are powerful. We are just simple folk,” he told dzMM in Filipino. “They can kill a minor, what more us?”
Saldy said he has sought help from Vice President Leni Robredo, who visited the wake of his son, and said he was ready to testify at any investigation into his son’s killing.
“I will fight for my son, they abused him,” he said in Filipino. “My son wanted to be a policeman. He idolized them, but they killed him.”
Also on Sunday, Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon asked Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre to fire a Caloocan City prosecutor for his manifest partiality and personal prejudices against Delos Santos, who was killed in a police operation.
Drilon, a former Justice secretary, said he was furious upon learning that Darwin Cañete of the Caloocan City Prosecutor’s Office had questioned Delos Santos’ innocence and publicly defended the Caloocan police.
Cañete told a newspaper interview that it was “too far-fetched” to believe that Kian was “totally innocent” and that the police had planted drugs on him.
“I am not saying they did not kill the kid. The [police] should be held accountable if ever it’s a proven EJK [extrajudicial killing]. But making the kid super innocent? I am not buying it,” Cañete was quoted as saying.
With his prejudiced statements against Delos Santos, Drilon said Cañete “cannot be trusted” to fulfill his duties to investigate and prosecute the policemen responsible for the 17-year-old’s death.
Drilon said Aguirre “should immediately remove Mr. Cañete from the case for manifest partiality and hostility towards the victim.”
Drilon said that Cañete may have also violated the Code of Conduct of Prosecutors, which mandates prosecutors to conduct themselves in the highest ethical standards of fairness, dignity, impartiality, and integrity with a view to preserving and enhancing public confidence in the prosecution service.
Drilon said he would suggest to Aguirre that Cañete be re-assigned to other post like in DOJ proper “where he can reacquaint himself with the basics of due process and respect for the rule of law.”
“The administration of justice in the country is better served without the likes of Cañete who are the reason why the public does not trust our justice system,” he said.
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