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MANILA, Philippines – Human rights groups on Thursday, November 29, welcomed the conviction of 3 Caloocan City policemen for murdering 17-year-old Kian delos Santos, but also urged immediate justice for other victims of extrajudicial killings.
The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) called on the government to intensify efforts to seek accountability for other abuses under President Rodrigo Duterte’s anti-drug campaign.
“We call on the government to step up their efforts in delivering justice for all victims of extrajudicial killings by ensuring that all perpetrators are apprehended and charged,” CHR Chairperson Chito Gascon said.
Caloocan City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 125 Judge Rodolfo Azucena Jr on Thursday found Police Officer III Arnel Oares, Police Officer I Jeremias Pereda, and Police Officer I Jerwin Cruz guilty for the death of Delos Santos.
They were sentenced to reclusion perpetua without eligibility for parole. (TIMELINE: Seeking justice for Kian delos Santos)
Delos Santos was dragged to a dark alley and shot on August 16, 2017. Police claimed he was armed, but CCTV footage and witnesses revealed that he was defenseless. (READ: Our son, Kian: A good, sweet boy)
Reports from government agencies, including the National Bureau of Investigation, found several irregularities in the police operation.
Warning to other cops
Gascon expressed gratitude to the people who helped secure the first conviction of abusive cops under Duterte’s anti-drug campaign.
“We welcome the trial court’s conviction of Kian’s killers and thank all those who assisted in securing justice in this case – particularly the courageous eyewitnesses, the church workers, and human rights defenders who offered sanctuary, and the investigators and prosecutors who performed their duty,” he said.
Human Rights Watch (HRW), meanwhile, said the conviction is a sign that law enforcers should stop using power to abuse and violate the rights of citizens.
“This is a triumph of justice and accountability and a warning to members of the Philippine National Police to respect due process and the rights of civilians as they do their job,” said Brad Adams, HRW Asia director.
He, however, warned of Duterte’s previous statements that police would be pardoned if convicted for their actions in line of duty.
“This is why it remains important that the government create an independent commission to investigate these killings,” Adams said.
“This also underscores the need for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to take further action on the complaints against Duterte,” he added.
Delos Santos’ death triggered condemnation of Duterte’s violent anti-drug campaign, which has so far led to nearly 5,000 deaths in police operations. Other minors like Delos Santos have been killed in drug-related circumstances.
The ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor is conducting a preliminary examination of the anti-drug campaign to determine if it has jurisdiction over the case in relation to crimes against humanity. – Rappler.com