MANILA, Philippines – Student leaders on Tuesday, August 29, filed a petition before the Department of Justice (DOJ) seeking to inhibit Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II from the investigation of the death of teenager Kian delos Santos.
In their petition, the students pushed for the turn over of Delos Santos’ case to the Office of the Ombudsman. (READ: Can the Ombudsman take over Kian’s case?)
The Public Attorney’s Office, representing the Delos Santos family, had earlier filed before the DOJ murder and torture complaints against Caloocan cops involved in the anti-drug operation that killed the teenager on August 16.
Karla Yu of Millennials Against Dictators said they did not believe that the DOJ was qualified to handle Kian’s case, citing Aguirre’s “whitewashed” statements on the minor’s death.
Aguirre earlier said that the killing of the 17-year-old had been “blown out of proportion” and that any war was sure to inflict collateral damage. He had also called out groups outraged by Delos Santos’ death at the hands of cops for not showing the same anger towards addicts who kill minors.
“We see it in his [Justice Secretary Aguirre] statements that he has biases on this case which makes him unqualified to handle it,” Yu said.
“The case of Kian Delos Santos is only one among the thousands of cases that have yet been filed. This is a landmark case with enough evidence and this will set the tone of the many cases to follow so it must be handled with fairness,” she added.
Kathleen Benavidez of the UP Law School said Aguirre’s involvement in the case would be “detrimental to having a thorough and impartial investigation of the case.”
“Aguirre, the Fake News king, has chosen to undermine us rather than respond to the growing call for him to keep his hands off the case. His attempts of muddling Kian’s case is widely-publicized and we have his quotes on our petition,” said Jeza Rodriguez, Student Council Alliance of the Philippines OIC Secretary General.
The petitioners also include students from the Bukluran UP System.
Activist priests Father Robert Reyes and Father Flavie Villanueva accompanied the students to the DOJ.
Reyes said Aguirre has been making “a mockery of the justice system.” The priest added that the case had already been “pre-judged,” echoing the position taken by some lawmakers who also want the case turned over to the Ombudsman. (READ: DOJ urged to turn over Kian’s case to Ombudsman)
Reyes said all citizens must bear the “social responsibility” of seeing through Delos Santos’ case. He added that the “mastermind” – not just the “triggermen” or the police – should also be held accountable.
“If there is a triggerman, who is the mastermind? Who asked the police to shoot and shoot and shoot and shoot? Thirty-two times, he said that is good?” he said, apparently alluding to the President Rodrigo Duterte. (READ: Duterte on deadly Bulacan drug raids: ‘Maganda ‘yun)
Referring to Duterte’s meeting with Saldy and Lorenza delos Santos the night before,” the priest asked, “After Kian’s parents shook hands with the President, does that mean it’s ‘case closed’?”
Hope amid ‘pressure’
On the meeting of the Delos Santos couple with the President on Monday, August 28, in Malacañang, Reyes said while he expected this to happen, he did not think it would happen too soon.
He expressed hope that the meeting with the President would not affect the Delos Santoses’ pursuit of their son’s case.
“People are beginning to open their eyes [to the truth], thanks to Kian….Kian did not and should not die in vain,” he said.
“I can only pray for Saldy and Elsa that as they sleep and dream at night, as they are in silence, they may hear the voice of the angel of truth. This is beyond political sentiments and leanings. The truth is bigger than this,” he added.
Reyes believes the couple were “pressured” to meet with the President, as he believed that they would not have gone to Malacañang on their own.
“The people who brought them [to Malacañang] have no delicadeza (sense of propriety). The poor are vulnerable. They need money, security, protection, and all of these must have been promised to them,” the priest said.
The meeting was attended by Aguirre, Public Attorney’s Office chief Persida Acosta, and Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption chairman Dante Jimenez.
Delos Santos’ killing had triggered public outrage after CCTV footage, eyewitness accounts, and even statements from police indicated that the teen was summarily executed. During a Senate hearing, police testified that they only learned about the teen’s alleged drug links after the operation.
On Saturday, August 26, hundreds joined the funeral march for Delos Santos who was buried at the La Loma Cemetery. The procession doubled as a protest rally against the Duterte administration’s war on drugs. (READ: Kian is your conscience) – Rappler.com