MANILA, Philippines – Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) chief Persida Acosta said on Thursdday, August 24, that Senator Risa Hontiveros should turn over to them the 3 witnesses in the case of slain 17-year-old Kian delos Santos.
“Senator Risa should now turn over their custody to the Department of Justice (DOJ) and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) because the Delos Santos family has chosen our office to handle their case,” Acosta said.
PAO will file on behalf of the Delos Santos family the murder complaint against Caloocan policemen who shot and killed Delos Santos during an anti-drug raid on August 16. PAO autopsy revealed Delos Santos was shot 3 times.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) contradicted the PAO autopsy and said Delos Santos was only gunned down twice.
Before Acosta, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said the witnesses should be under his custody as they should be covered by the witness protection program (WPP) of the DOJ.
Hontiveros said PAO and DOJ’s motive for wanting to get the witnesses is questionable.
“Ako lamang ay nagugulat sa biglang pangyayari. Mukhang may mga pwersang gumagalaw para kunin ang mga testigo, i-undermine ang kaso at limitahan ang accountability sa panig lamang ng mga pulis,” Hontiveros said.
(I’m just surprised at the unexpected events. It looks like there are forces moving to take control of the witnesses, undermine the case and limit accountability on the part of the police.)
(READ: Aguirre: Kian case overblown, any war has collateral damage)
Acosta claims the witnesses want to withdraw from Hontiveros.
“The family of these witnesses initially sought her help, but the parents of the minors have already decided to recall the custody of the witnesses from the senator,” Acosta said.
Acosta said that a 4th witness is already under her custody.
“We will apply for WPP coverage of the witness after the filing of the complaint for murder before the DOJ tomorrow (Friday),” Acosta said.
Aguirre said the credibility of the witnesses could be affected because Hontiveros is a known and vocal critic of President Rodrigo Duterte. – Rappler.com
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