MANILA, Philippines – Caloocan police revealed on Thursday, August 24, that they only found out about the supposed drug ties of 17-year-old Kian Loyd delos Santos after he was killed.
Police officers involved in the operation also testified before the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs on Thursday that they checked "social media" to determine the supposed involvement of the teenager in illegal drugs, but only after the anti-drug operation.
Responding to questions from senators about the operation in Caloocan City that killed Delos Santos, Chief Superintendent Roberto Fajardo, former Northern Police District (NPD) chief, admitted they only "confirmed" Delos Santos' alleged drug ties after the operation that killed him.
The "confirmation" was made after the arrest of a drug pusher who claimed he had transactions with Delos Santos. The arrest happened after the operation.
"We also based, Sir, doon sa lumalabas na sa mga social media, na nagsasabi. After na [ng operations] (We also based, Sir, on what was coming out on social media, which said so. This is after [the operations])," said former Caloocan City police chief Chito Bersaluna when asked by administration Senator Manny Pacquiao.
Pacquiao then criticized Bersaluna for his answer. "Alam mo di puwede 'yang katwiran na 'yan. Masyadong napakababa na dahilan na sa social media (You know, that kind of reasoning is not acceptable. To say it was from social media is very shallow)," the senator said.
Bersaluna then said their operating units recovered a cellphone with Delos Santos' supposed drug transactions.
Both Fajardo and Bersaluna were relieved from their posts following public outrage over Delos Santos' killing.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, for his part, said the objective of the hearing is to determine if Delos Santos was summarily executed and not to establish his drug links.
"My submission, Mr Chairman, the purpose of this investigation is to find out the circumstance behind the killing of Kian, not whether Kian is a drug pusher. Because patay na 'yun eh (he's already dead), he can no longer defend himself. The fact is, he has been killed," Drilon said.
Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email firstname.lastname@example.org