PHILIPPINE National Police chief Ronald dela Rosa on Wednesday told police officers to stop planting evidence on drug suspects after a crime lab report said 17-year-old Kian Loyd delos Santos had not fired a gun before he was shot dead by Caloocan City cops on Aug. 16.
In a speech at the 116th Police Service Anniversary in Central Visayas, Dela Rosa told police officers that God was watching and there would be a day of reckoing for those who did wrong.
“Avoil planting drugs on the suspect because you want them out of the drug business,” Dela Rosa said in Filipino.
“Maybe you’re tired, and you know they go in and out of jail. You arrest them, but they have nothing on them, so you plant the evidence. Don’t do that. That is very bad. God is watching us, and there will be a reckoning,” he added.
The PNP is under fire over the death of Delos Santos, a student who was found dead in an alley with with a .45 pistol and two sachets of shabu.
Police claimed that Delos Santos was a drug courier, and had fired at them while trying to flee, prompting them to shoot back and kill him.
But his family said the gun and drugs were not his, while witnesses disputed the police version of events. CCTV footage showing two policemen dragging Delos Santos from one alley to another, where he was killed, also contradicted their story.
Two of the policemen involved earlier admitted that they indeed dragged Delos Santos as seen on the CCTV footage.
On Wednesday, police said Delos Santos tested negative for gunpowder nitrates on both hands, indicating he had not fired a gun the night he was shot dead.
The information came from a report by the Northern Police District Crime Laboratory.
“Qualitative examination conducted on the paraffin cast taken from both hands of the cadaver [referring to Kian’s body] gave negative results to the test for gunpowder nitrates,” laboratory findings said.
President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday acknowledged that the Caloocan police may have committed irregularities that led to Delos Santos’ death.
“I’m not justifying the Caloocan incident. That is really bad. That wasn’t in the performance of their duty. Do not commit a crime,” the President said during the inauguration of a solar manufacturing plant in Sto. Tomas, Batangas.
The President repeatedly reminded the military and the police that everything should be done with regularity.
“You are not allowed to shoot a person who is kneeling down, begging for his life, that is murder,” Duterte said.
The President said police who were involved in criminal acts “should get killed.”
Delos Santos, who was killed in a police operation in Caloocan City last week, sustained two gunshot wounds to his head, according to a report from the Philippine National Police Crime Laboratory.
The PNP autopsy report, however, contradicted earlier reports of a team of forensic experts, which said Delos Santos sustained three gunshot wounds overall.
Meanwhile, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said the credibility of eyewitnesses taken into custody by opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros was not in question, since their testimony might now be polluted, given the senator’s anti-government bias.
“Of course it will affect the credibility of these witnesses considering the bias of their handler,” Aguirre said.
Aguirre, who earlier ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to conduct a parallel investigation on Kian’s death, said the witnesses should instead be transferred to the custody of the witness protection program.
“It is the WPP which has the mandate to protect witnesses,” he said.
The Justice secretary then reiterated his offer to the witnesses and the family of Kian for coverage in the WPP after they reportedly received threats.
Hontiveros took custody of the witnesses after she visited Kian’s wake last weekend.
The three witnesses under the custody of Hontiveros will appear at the Senate inquiry on the incident on Thursday.
Hontiveros said two of the witnesses, aged 13 and 16, have signed sworn statements that will be included in the criminal case filed against the three policemen involved.
Hontiveros said her office took custody of the witnesses in response to a request from their families to protect them from threats they were receiving.
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