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Caloocan prosecutor won't be fired, but won't handle Kian's case either

MANILA, Philippines – Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said on Monday, August 21, the controversial Prosecutor Darwin Cañete will not be tasked to handle the case of slain Grade 11 student Kian delos Santos.

Aguirre said the Calooocan City Prosecutor's Office has excluded Cañete from the raffle if and when a complaint related to Delos Santos is filed before them.

"This exclusion is precisely done to avoid any purported prejudgment from being present in his resolution of the case if the same is raffled to him,” Aguirre said.

Senator Franklin Drilon earlier called on Aguirre to fire Cañete for alleged prejudice toward Delos Santos. 

Cañete has said in media interviews that Delos Santos' innocence is "too far-fetched."

Cañete was supposedly one of the first on the scene to investigate. In an interview with the Philippine Daily Inquirer, he said: "I am not saying they did not kill the kid. [Police] should be held accountable if ever it's a proven EJK (extrajudicial killing). But making the kid super innocent? I am not buying it."

But Aguirre said he cannot fire Cañete for doing his job. The justice secretary clarified that no prosecutor, including Cañete, has been tasked to handle Delos Santos' case.

"Since Prosecutor Cañete is a Caloocan City resident, for cases of death under investigation in Caloocan, he is tasked to gather the relevant factual antecedents of such cases upon the invitation of the police. And that is all that he did in the case of Kian de los Santos’ death," Aguirre said.

Aguirre added: "How can I relieve a prosecutor from a case which he is not handling?"

Aguirre's statement, which was sent to reporters past 7 pm Monday after a day's worth of follow-ups, does not address the question of whether there will be a disciplinary evaluation of Cañete.

Drilon said Cañete may have violated the Code of Conduct of Prosecutors, which mandates prosecutors to conduct themselves in the highest ethical standards of fairness, dignity, impartiality, and integrity.

Before Cañete's posts related to Delos Santos went viral over the weekend, he was called out in June for a Facebook post that called for the killing of "yellows."

Yellows refer to groups allied withe opposition Liberal Party and critical of President Rodrigo Duterte.

"This is why no ceasefire. No stopping. No compromise. Fact is, yellows are evil. You do not talk to them. You kill them. After you kill one, you find another to destroy. Like cockroaches," the prosecutor said in a Facebook post last June 12

“I understand the sentiments of Senator Franklin Drilon. I am sure that everyone wants this case to be handled with utmost impartiality and for any party responsible brought to justice. This is also my commitment to all as the people’s steward of the Department  of Justice," Aguirre said.

Aguirre has ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to investigate the case of Delos Santos, who was killed during an anti-drugs operation of the Caloocan police on August 16.

Public Attorneys Office chief Perside Acosta said there is basis to file murder complaints against the cops who shot Delos Santos after the autopsy report revealed 3 wounds on Kian, one of them considered "treacherous" or an aggravating circumstance for a murder complaint. – 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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