Murder, torture complaints filed vs cops in Kian delos Santos case

Lian Buan

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Murder, torture complaints filed vs cops in Kian delos Santos case

LeAnne Jazul

Senator Risa Hontiveros urges Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II to 'inhibit himself' from all investigations related to the case

MANILA, Philippines – The parents of Kian delos Santos, represented by the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO), have filed murder and torture complaints against the Caloocan policemen who conducted the anti-drug raid that led to the death of the teenager.

The respondents in the complaints filed  before the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Friday, August 25, are Police Officer 3 Arnel Oares, Police Officer 1 Jerwin Cruz, Police Officer 1 Jeremias Pereda, their station commander Chief Inspector Amor Cerillo, and several “John Does.”

Oares led the anti-drug operation in Delos Santos’ community and was tagged as the one who shot the 17-year-old.

Saldy and Lorenza delos Santos, assisted by PAO chief Persida Acosta, filed complaints of murder and violation of the anti-torture law, including provisions on physical torture, torture resulting in death, and torture against children.

PAO’s murder complaint is based on the result of its re-autopsy, which showed Delos Santos was shot 3 times – twice on the head first then on his back.

Acosta said the bullet trajectory would also show Delos Santos was already kneeling when he was shot, causing him to collapse to the ground. The Philippine National Police had the same finding.

‘Aguirre should inhibit from the case’

The complaints were filed before the DOJ even after some lawmakers questioned the impartiality of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, who had made statements questioning media attention and the “focus” of some groups on the case.

Aguirre earlier alleged that the Delos Santos case had been “blown out of proportion” by the media and groups protesting the teenager’s death to attack the Duterte administration. Aguirre also called Delos Santos “collateral damage” in the drug war, and just one among thousands who had been killed in the campaign.

On Friday, Senator Risa Hontiveros called on Aguirre II to inhibit from all investigations into the Delos Santos case.

“In the spirit and interest of impartiality and the pursuit of justice, I demand that the justice secretary inhibit himself from all investigations being conducted into the killing of Kian,” said Hontiveros.

In a statement on Friday, August 25, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon reiterated his call for the DOJ to allow the Ombudsman to handle the preliminary investigation of the case.  Drilon reiterated his belief that Aguirre had shown his biases in the case, based on his pronouncements in the Senate hearing on Thursday.

“What we have seen from the hearing is that there were obvious attempts to whitewash or minimize as much as they can the liability of the Caloocan policemen,” Drilon said. (READ: Aguirre: What’s the difference between kids killed by addicts, cops?)

“After the hearing, we cannot expect the DOJ to remain impartial. That is why in the name of justice, Aguirre should let the Ombudsman conduct the preliminary investigation,” he added.

Aguirre has offered state protection to the Delos Santos family, and even the witnesses against the respondents in the case, but asked that the witnesses be turned over to the DOJ. Hontiveros has taken protective custody of the witnesses in the case.

Acosta and Aguirre have insisted that Hontiveros should turn the witnesses over to them, if only to give way to their admission into the DOJ’s Witness Protection Program (WPP).

At the Senate hearing on Thursday, Aguirre said the witnesses’ credibility would be tainted since Hontiveros is a vocal critic of President Rodrigo Duterte. Hontiveros, in turn, questioned the motives of Aguirre for wanting to take custody of the witnesses. –

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Lian Buan

Lian Buan is a senior investigative reporter, and minder of Rappler's justice, human rights and crime cluster.