MANILA, Philippines – A policeman detained and charged in the murder of 17-year-old Kian delos Santos took the witness stand on Thursday, August 23, to offer his version of the story, but the prosecution believes the testimony proves the cop is lying.
Police Officer 1 (PO1) Jeremias Pereda, one of the 3 accused cops, told the Caloocan Regional Trial Court Branch 125 on Thursday, that the eyewitnesses’ testimonies saying they saw the policemen drag Delos Santos are not valid conclusions.
A CCTV footage showing cops dragging a boy believed to be Delos Santos was the tipping point of an intense scrutiny of the war on drugs, as it supposedly belied the police narrative that Delos Santos – like the thousand other suspects killed in the campaign – was shot dead because he fought back with a gun.
Pereda said that the boy on the CCTV was their teenager asset named “Jay-R” but eyewitnesses swore they saw that it was Delos Santos being dragged to the basketball court.
“Mali po. Dahil may posibilidad na si Kian ‘yun, may posibilidad na ‘yung asset ‘yun (That’s wrong, because there’s a possibility it’s Kian, and there’s a possibility it’s the asset),” said Pereda on Thursday, the 3rd hearing of the defense presentation.
By making that statement, Pereda was making the point that for one to be able to conclude that it was Delos Santos they dragged, it has to be beyond reasonable doubt. That’s why he said that while there’s a possibility that it is Delos Santos, there’s also a possibility that it’s not.
It has always been the defense camp’s line of reasoning that no one can know for sure that it was Delos Santos because the place was dark. (WATCH: The dark alley to Kian delos Santos’ death)
Pereda’s statement led Caloocan Regional Trial Court Branch 125 Judge Rodolfo Azucena Jr to interject and ask Pereda, “Are you not sure?”
“Kasi kailangan mapatunayan na si Kian ‘yun beyond reasonable doubt. Pero pinaninindigan ko pong ang asset namin ‘yun (Because you have to be able to prove that it’s Kian beyond reasonable doubt. But I stand by my word that it was our asset),” said Pereda.
Later in the testimony, Pereda said, “Kung intensyon po namin na patayin si Kian, hindi namin siya papatayin sa sarili niyang lugar at hindi namin siya idadaan sa maliwanag at alam naman naming may CCTV.”
(If it was our intention to kill Kian, we would not kill him in his own turf, and we wouldn’t drag him to a place that’s well-lit with a CCTV.)
That gave Prosecutor Robert Ong the opening for his cross-examination.
Ong kept it short; he just asked Pereda to confirm that he said: “Hindi namin siya idadaan sa maliwanag (we wouldn’t drag him to a well-lit place).” Pereda confirmed.
It was a strategy to try to poke a hole into Pereda’s testimony. While the defense maintains that no one can be sure it was Delos Santos because it was dark, Pereda said the place was well-lit.
After the hearing, Ong told reporters: “Halata namang nagsisinungaling siya (It’s obvious he’s lying).”
Judge Azucena earlier said he would not rely on written affidavits, but on the testimonies made on the stand so he can ascertain “if it’s a lie or not.”
Pereda identified their asset as Jay-R, but earlier the Caloocan police presented to the media a Renato Loveras, alias Nonong, who supposedly pointed to Delos Santos as a drug runner.
Pereda’s testimony on Thursday clarified that Delos Santos was not a target that night, just somebody who supposedly shot at them while they were on their way to an operation.
According to Pereda, he and co-accused PO1 Jerwin Cruz and team leader PO3 Arnel Oares were at Libis Baesa, Barangay 160 in Caloocan the night of August 16 to conduct Oplan Galugad.
Pereda said they were with their asset Jay-R who was going to lead them to a pot session, when someone suddenly shot at them.
The gunman, who they said was Delos Santos, allegedly turned to the left alley. On Oares’ orders, Pereda said he and Cruz turned to the right alley to secure Jay-R.
Oares went after the gunman, Pereda said.
“Pagdating namin sa pinangyarihan ng insidente, tapos na po ang shoot-out at nabaril na po ang gunman na si Kian,” said Pereda. (When we arrived at the scene, the shoot-out was done, and Kian was already shot.)
Pereda claimed he and Cruz never fired their guns, backed up by a police report saying they tested negative for gunpowder nitrates.
Delos Santos, however, also tested negative for gunpowder traces.
Investigation from the Philippine National Police (PNP) showed it was a bullet from Oares’ gun that killed Delos Santos. The same investigation revealed Delos Santos was facing down and in a kneeling position, while the gunman was standing up.
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has concluded it was a case of murder, and that police planted evidence of shabu. The NBI findings formed part of the prosecution’s evidence.
The next hearing is on August 30. – Rappler.com