MANILA, Philippines – Senator Risa Hontiveros has given protection to some alleged witnesses in the killing of Kian Loyd delos Santos, a 17-year-old student shot by the police after he allegedly fought back during anti-drug operations in Caloocan City. (READ: Our son Kian: A good, sweet boy)
“Nag-take custody nga po yung office ko doon sa ilang mga saksi in coordination po with Bong and Elsa, yung mga magulang ni Kian. At may isa pang institution na tumutulong. Ang primary concern po namin ay yung patuloy na seguridad at proteksyon sa pamilya at mga saksi na maaring tumulong para mabigyan ng hustisya si Kian,” Hontiveros said in an interview with radio dzBB on Sunday, August 20.
(Well, our office has taken custody of some witnesses in coordination with Bong and Else, Kian's parents. There is also one institution helping us. Our primary concern is to secure them and protect the family and witnesses who might help bring justice to Kian's death.)
The senator, however, refused to give details on the number of witnesses under her custody.
Hontiveros said there is a need to protect the “truth” behind the teenager’s death. Citing Bong, Kian's father, the senator said the family has been receiving threats following public outcry against police’s actions. The father also earlier vowed to fight for his son’s death no matter what.
“Meron na rin pong nagbabanta sa kanila. So importante po na itong napaka-precious na katotohanan, yung totoong kwento na nangyari kay Kian, na alam po nilang lahat, ay maipahatid sa ating mga awtoridad, sa tamang forum,” Hontiveros said.
(There are also threats to them now. So it is important that this precious truth, the real story on what happened to Kian, which they all know, would be brought to the authorities, to the right forum.)
Caloocan police claimed that Delos Santos was a drug suspect who, upon seeing them during anti-drug operations, fired his gun toward the direction of the cops.
CCTV video and testimonies by witnesses, however, indicated otherwise. CCTV footage showed policemen dragging Delos Santos, his head covered, to the place where he was eventually shot.
Witnesses also contradicted the police, saying it was the latter that handed Delos Santos a gun and ordered him to pull the trigger and run.
Hontiveros said the witnesses are ready to face the Senate should there be an investigation.
"Handa po silang sabihin ang katotohanan na alam nila. At pag-uusapan nila [kasama ang] binubuo naming legal team yung next moves nila. Iniiwan ko po sa kanila, kapag pormal na silang inimbita, na makapagdesisyon. Pero for one, ina-assure ko sila na isang mabuting forum po ang Senado," Hontiveros said.
(They are ready to say the truth. They will talk with their lawyers their next moves. I am leaving it up to them to decide once they receive the formal invitation from the Senate. But for one, I will assure them that the Senate is a good forum to reveal their stories.)
Senators have pushed for an “impartial” probe into the boy’s death. Administration senators are set to meet on Sunday to discuss their next steps of action.
Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, the Chief Executive's partymate, said they are preparing a resolution calling for a probe into the matter.
During previous Senate hearings on the spate of extrajudicial killings, Duterte's allies said such killings were neither sanctioned by the government nor the President, who has repeatedly vowed to protect the police no matter what. (READ: Senate ends probe: Neither Duterte nor state sponsored killings) – Rappler.com
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