MANILA, Philippines – More than a year after 17-year-old Kian Loyd Delos Santos was killed in cold blood, a Caloocan Court finally ended his murder trial and has set promulgation of judgment on November 29.
In the last hearing on Thursday, August 30, one of the policemen accused in the murder of Delos Santos maintained his initial narrative when he took the witness stand at Caloocan Regional Trial Court Branch 125.
Police Officer 1 (PO1) Jerwin Cruz insisted that on the night of August 18, 2017, it was not Delos Santos who was seen with him and co-accused PO1 Jeremy Pereda in a CCTV footage, but a police asset called “Jay-R.”
Cruz said Jay-R asked that his face be covered so he would not be recognized by the community as the one accompanying the cops.
Cruz was referring to the CCTV footage that showed him and Pereda dragging a boy towards a basketball court in Barangay 160, Baesa, Caloocan. That footage sparked nationwide protests after eyewitnesses swore that the boy was Delos Santos. The statement of the witnesses debunked the claim that the teenager fired a gun at the policemen.
Cruz and Pereda insist that Delos Santos opened fire at them.
Jay-R, according to Cruz, was introduced to them earlier that day in a briefing for Oplan Galugad at Police Station 7 in Caloocan City.
At around 8 pm that day, Cruz said Jay-R joined the police team at Barangay 160, Baesa, to help cops find the sites where the shabu sessions were being held. Jay-R was also supposed to take the police to the houses where arrest warrants were to be served.
The police said their operation was scrapped when they heard “about two gunshots” as they were approaching a dark alley in Barangay 160.
Cruz, however, could not specify where the gunshots came from, and how the gunman looked like. He added that they were ordered by team leader PO3 Arnel Oares to take cover, and secure their asset as the senior officer pursued the gunman.
A few minutes later, Cruz said they secured their asset and returned to the crime scene. At this point, Cruz said Delos Santos was already dead.
To further his defense, Cruz also said the ballistic examination of the bullet taken from the remains of Delos Santos did not match his fiream.
Cruz and Pereda however did not undergo a paraffin test which the Philippine National Police has repeatedly used to prove an accused cop’s innocence, or a suspect’s guilt.
Judge Rodolfo Azucena Jr asked why this was not done, to which Cruz simply answered: “Hindi ko po alam.” (I don’t know, mam)
A possible aquittal
Still, Cruz and Pereda’s legal counsel Oliver Yuan was optimistic that the two cops would be acquitted.
In an interview with reporters on Thursday, Yuan said, “if we’re going to base everything on the law, we should get an acquittal.”
“I’m not saying that everything they [prosecution] presented are lies, but as so far as im concerned, they were not able to prove the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt.”
Yuan added that the two cops were not required by the PNP to undergo paraffin tests, and that the ballistic report remains more reliable.
Meanwhile, the two cops will remain detained at Valenzuela City Jail until the promulgation on November 29. – Rappler.com