Aguirre gives state protection to Kian delos Santos' parents

MANILA, Philippines – The government has given state protection to the parents of slain teenager Kian delos Santos after they applied for it on Tuesday, August 29, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II confirmed.

“They voluntarily went to us at the Department of Justice (DOJ) today to apply for admission to the Witness Protection Program (WPP). And we immediately accommodated them," Aguirre told reporters.

Saldy and Lorenza delos Santos were placed under provisional coverage of the WPP pending the signing of an agreement to formalize the arrangement.

Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) president Dante Jimenez was with the Delos Santos couple at the DOJ on Tuesday. Aguirre and Jimenez were present during the meeting of the Delos Santos couple and President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday night, August 28.

Aguirre said the submission of the Delos Santoses to the state protection program under the DOJ should dispel criticism that he had prejudged the case of their son. 

"This just shows, that contrary to the unfounded allegations of bias hurled against me by some ill-motivated or ill-informed sectors, the parents of Kian delos Santos have full faith and confidence with me and the DOJ in the handling of their son’s case," said Aguirre.

The Cabinet official had drawn flak for questioning public outrage over the teenager's death in a police operation. (READ: Aguirre: Kian case overblown, any war has collateral damage and What's the difference between kids killed by addicts cops?)

Student leaders went to the DOJ Tuesday morning to file their petition asking the DOJ to inhibit from the investigation of the Delos Santos case, and instead let the Office of the Ombudsman handle it.

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales confirmed on Tuesday that the Military and Other Law Enforcement Offices (MOLEO) of the Office of the Ombudsman began conducting its fact-finding investigation into the Delos Santos case. Aguirre has yet to respond to Morales' announcement.

"We have started sending out subpoena. We want copies of this or that document," Morales said. (READ: Can the Ombudsman take over Kian case?)

'Poor are vulnerable'

APPLICATION. Lorenza and Saldy delos Santos apply for the Witness Protection Program of the Department of Justice on August 29, 2017. With them is Justice Secretary Alexander Aguirre II and Dante Jimenez, president of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC). Photo courtesy of the DOJ

APPLICATION. Lorenza and Saldy delos Santos apply for the Witness Protection Program of the Department of Justice on August 29, 2017. With them is Justice Secretary Alexander Aguirre II and Dante Jimenez, president of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC).

Photo courtesy of the DOJ

Reyes said the VACC and the Public Attorneys Office (PAO) are taking advantage of Kian's parents, resulting in back-to-back meetings – first with Duterte on Monday and then the WPP application with Aguirre on Tuesday.

Reyes said he could not blame the Delos Santos couple.

"The poor are vulnerable, let's not exploit the poor they are very vulnerable. They need money, they need security, they need support, they need protection and all of these must have been promised to them and no less than the President himself. What can the President promise to two poor parents of the victim of an extrajudicial killing (EJK)," Reyes said.

Reyes said it should be the Ombudsman which should handle the case, since it is a constitutional body, instead of the DOJ which is under the executive branch. Reyes said he would talk to the Delos Santos couple again.

"Who trusts the DOJ? Who trusts the President? Only his people, his men, and women....People are beginning to open their eyes and that should not go to waste. We are saddened because with Lorenza and Saldy going to Malacañang, that is like throwing your pearls at the swine. Kian did not and should not die in vain," Reyes said.

The meeting with the President happened two days after the Delos Santos couple buried their son, who was killed in an anti-drug operation. CCTV footage, eyewitness accounts, and forensic experts' findings indicate that he was summarily executed. (READ: Groups seek end to killings as Kian delos Santos buried) – Rappler.com

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.

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