Q&A: Duterte on Kian delos Santos, future of drug war

Pia Ranada

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Q&A: Duterte on Kian delos Santos, future of drug war
President Rodrigo Duterte says the Grade 11 student's death won't change how he implements his drug war

MANILA, Philippines – The death of 17-year-old Kian delos Santos during a police raid in Caloocan was among the major topics journalists grilled President Rodrigo Duterte about during their dinner on Monday, August 21.

That night, hundreds of people staged a rally at the People Power Monument to protest Delos Santos’ killing at the hands of police. (READ: ‘Nakaluhod tapos nasubsob’: How Kian was shot, according to PAO)

Protesters demanded justice for Delos Santos and blamed Duterte for goading police to kill supposed drug addicts without giving them a chance to defend themselves in a proper court.

Duterte was ready to answer the questions. He had watched the CCTV footage that convinced many that Delos Santos was murdered by police in an alley and not killed during a shootout, as police claimed.

In the formal press conference held during the dinner, Duterte promised that the cops involved in Delos Santos’ death would go to jail. He too believes the CCTV footage challenges the narrative of police that Delos Santos fought back.

But further grilling by journalists at the dinner table showed Duterte won’t let Delos Santos’ death stop the momentum gained by his bloody war against drugs.

The Grade 11 student’s death won’t change the way he will implement the anti-drug campaign and won’t stop him from protecting police.

Below are questions by journalists and Duterte’s answers to them:

Pia Ranada (Rappler): Sir, will you change the way the drug war is conducted given Kian’s death?

President Duterte: No, no, no, hindi ako puwede mag-atras diyan. Kung magkamali dito, kung mawala ako, alam mo na, you try to imagine a scene na nag-crash eroplano ko pag-uwi ko, who is in the best position to carry out the fight against drugs?

(No, no, no, I cannot back down there. If there is a mistake, if I am gone, you try to imagine a scene in which my plane crashes when I go home, who is in the best position to carry out the fight against drugs?)

Ranada: Sir, you don’t have to compromise on capturing drug lords but you can just make it harder for people to kill innocent people.

Yes, because, in the first place bawal talaga ‘yan (it’s not allowed), so it is punishable.

Ranada: Don’t you think your messaging directly led to the death of [Kian]?

No, because I said I want to destroy the apparatus. If you are a member of the apparatus and you are killed, wala akongbasta (I have no – if) you are killed in the process, within the bounds of the law, you get into a fight with the police, you fight the military violently, pero kung sabihin mo ‘yung ganoon, sabi nila rubout, nakaano na, hindi man puwede talaga ‘yan (but you say it’s a rubout, it’s really not allowed). Even in war, there is articles of war, the military says you have to follow.

Ranada: Some people say your words embolden police – (Duterte: Yes correct.) – to be corrupt.

Hindi. Because noon, walang pulis magtrabaho kasi takot sa kaso, ‘yan ang totoo. That is why it (the drug trade) flourished. Ang police takot kasi ‘pag suspended sila, alam mo ganito ‘yan, you have perfected the art of defending the drug industry. Ang resbak niyan is magdemanda rin, that he was a victim of abuse of the police. So malagay mo sa compromise ‘yung police. Kaya noon, nagdami itong drugs. Bakit nagkaganoon?Because ang pulis takot ng kaso. Ayaw pumatay, ayaw mag-operate kasi baka mamatay, may kaso, kaya ang guarantee ko sa kanila, due, tama, due performance of duty.

(No. Because before, no police would work because they were afraid of cases, that’s the truth. That is why it flourished. The police were scared because they could get suspended. This is how it works, you have perfected the art of defending the drug industry. Their way of getting back is, they will file cases, claim he was a victim of abuse of the police. So you will put the police in a compromising situation. That’s why before, drugs proliferated. Why did it reach that point? Because the police are scared of cases. They don’t want to kill, don’t want to operate because someone might die, there will be a case. So my guarantee to them is due, meaning correct, due performance of duty.)

Joseph Morong (GMA-7): Sir, may nagsasabi na kaya nangyayari ‘yung nangyari kay Kian is that the police are involved in and they think that it is now state policy, ‘yung pagpatay sa mga addict.

(Sir, some are saying that drug-related killings similar to Kian’s are happening because police are involved and they think that it is now state policy to kill addicts.)

What would be the reason also for a police to do that and get into trouble? Alam nila ‘yan because ‘pag raid niyan maraming tao nakatingin (They know that because when there is a raid, a lot of people are watching). The neighborhood itself is focused on the police activity going on so why would they try to get into trouble? Alam man nila na marami nang pulis nakulong (They know many cops have been imprisoned). Would you try to? Ewan ko, ‘yung mga ito (I don’t know about these people). Every time you commit a mistake you always compromise your position.

Doris Bigornia (ABS-CBN): Sa intel na binigay sa inyo, naniniwala ba kayo na runner talaga itong si Kian? (From the intel given to you, do you believe Kian was really a runner?)

No, intel is intel. There is no probative value, you cannot use it in court. Those are just information gathered by the police or the miitary. It is an internal thing. ‘Di mo masabi itong intel na ito, mali ‘yan (You cannot base things on intel, that’s wrong).

Ina Andolong (CNN Philippines): What do you think about what you saw in the CCTV?

Well, I saw two presumably policemen, parang (it seemed that), how do I put it, moving a person or apparently dragging his head or maybe wounded or lasing (drunk). Ang aking nakikita, karamihan diyan lasing. Inaakay tawag diyan (From what I see, when a lot of people are drunk, they are dragged that way). I cannot go beyond the footage, at marami ‘yan (and there’s a lot). ‘Yung footage lang (The footage just) has to be proven, the time and ano (what), who placed the camera there, how long was it there? If you cannot answer the questions, you cannot present that in court. Who was taking the video? Who was the cameraman? What was the equipment used? What was the brand? What was the time that you filmed it?

– Rappler.com

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is Rappler’s Community Lead, in charge of linking our journalism with communities for impact.