TIMELINE: Seeking justice for Kian delos Santos

Jodesz Gavilan

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TIMELINE: Seeking justice for Kian delos Santos

LeAnne Jazul

(2nd UPDATE) The death of 17-year-old Kian delos Santos triggers massive condemnation of President Rodrigo Duterte’s violent war on drugs

 MANILA, Philippines – Caloocan Regional Trial Court Branch 125 in November 2018, found 3 Caloocan policemen guilty of murdering 17-year-old Kian Loyd delos Santos. 

The conviction comes more than a year after Delos Santos was gunned down in August 2017. According to police, he was killed in an encounter but CCTV footage and witnesses revealed that he was dragged to a dark alley and shot. 

Delos Santos’ death triggered massive condemnation of President Rodrigo Duterte’s violent war on drugs which has so far yielded about 5,000 deaths in police operations. Delos Santos is one of the many minors killed in drug-related circumstances since 2016.

Below is a timeline of key events pertaining to the 6-month trial that led to the conviction:


AUGUST 16, 2017 

Photo by Angie De Silva/Rappler

Kian delos Santos is killed in a dark alley near his house in Caloocan City. According to police reports, cops were only forced to retaliate during a one-time, big-time operation.

Surveillance videos from CCTV in the area, together with witness accounts, show that the 17-year-old was dragged by policemen across alleys and into a corner where he was shot. 

AUGUST 18, 2017

Malacañang says the case of Delos Santos is “isolated.” 

“What we can say with confidence is that those who are guilty of breaking the law, misuse or abuse will have to answer for that,” then presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella assures the public.  

AUGUST 19, 2017

The Department of Justice announces it has ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to investigate the police raid that led to the death of Delos Santos.

Department Order Number 546, signed by then justice secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, directs the NBI to conduct an investigation and do a case build-up on the incident and to file appropriate charges.  

AUGUST 20, 2017 

Senator Risa Hontiveros announces she has given protection to some witnesses in the killing of Delos Santos, adding that they are ready to face an investigation should there be one.  

The Commission on Human Rights also says its National Capital Region (NCR) office has launched an independent investigation.  

The Senate majority bloc, meanwhile, adopts a resolution calling for a probe into the spate of killings in the Duterte administration’s drug war, including the death of Delos Santos.

AUGUST 21, 2017

JUSTICE. Public calls for justice. Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

President Rodrigo Duterte, in a dinner with journalists, promises that the cops involved the 17-year-old’s death would go to jail but he won’t let this incident stop the momentum gained by his bloody war against drugs.  

This, amid protests condemning the murder of Delos Santos in the hands of police. 

Then Northern Police District (NPD) chief Superintendent Roberto Fajardo says the death of Delos Santos has been “politicized.” He is eventually put on “administrative relief.”  

The PNP also says it has ordered the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) to conduct a probe into the case.

AUGUST 22, 2017 

The Public Attorney’s Office says Delos Santos was killed while he was kneeling. This is also confirmed by the PNP two days later on August 24.  

AUGUST 23, 2017

Then justice secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II says the death of Delos Santos was “blown out of proportion” by the media and that the drug war, like any war, would have collateral damage.

AUGUST 24, 2017

The Senate conducts a hearing on the case. Kian’s parents, Saldy and Lorenza delos Santos, confront their son’s killers who claimed that he was a “drug courier.”

Ang pangarap ng anak ko maging pulis. Kaya po siya nag-aral sa Our Lady of Lourdes College dahil may criminology, tapos kukuhanin ‘nyo lang nang ganoong kadali (My son dreamed of becoming a policeman. He studied at Our Lady of Lourdes College because it offered criminology, then you’ll take him away just like that),” Saldy says.

AUGUST 25, 2017 

The parents of Delos Santos, represented by the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO), file murder and torture complaints before the Department of Justice against the Caloocan policemen involved in the raid that led to the teen’s death. 

AUGUST 26, 2017

Hundreds of people join the funeral march of Kian delos Santos. 

AUGUST 28, 2017

REMEMBERING KIAN. President Rodrigo Duterte speaks with Saldy and Lorenza delos Santos, parents of teenager Kian delos Santos who was killed during a drug raid. Malacañang photo

Duterte meets with Kian’s parents at the Malacañang Golf Club. According to a Palace source, the meeting was requested by the Delos Santoses. The President promises that their son will have justice.

AUGUST 29, 2017

Then ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales announces that her office has started its own probe into the death of Kian delos Santos. 

On the same day, Aguirre grants state protection to Kian’s parents.

AUGUST 31, 2017 

The National Bureau of Investigation says its investigation established that Delos Santos’ death was a case of intentional killing. The bureau files a complaint for murder and planting of evidence against Caloocan cops.


The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) files administrative and criminal complaints against Caloocan policemen. The complaints use eyewitness accounts as basis.


The PNP Internal Affairs Service announces that there is probable cause to press charges after its investigation found serious irregularities in the drug raid which led to the death of Delos Santos.  

It later reveals that the cops’ “acts collectively and individually demonstrate the existence of a common design towards the accomplishment of the same unlawful purpose, conspiracy is evident.” 

Then PNP chief director general Ronald dela Rosa admits his cops may have taken it too far, adding that there was “really an overkill. 

SEPTEMBER 14, 2017

The Department of Justice begins its preliminary investigation.

OCTOBER 16, 2017 

A Pulse Asia survey finds that “most” Filipinos are concerned that they too could end up like Delos Santos. At least 76% of those who knew about the case said they were “worried that they, a member of their family, a relative, or an acquaintance may experience the same fate as Delos Santos due to the implementation of the administration’s anti-illegal drugs campaign.” 

OCTOBER 27, 2017

The DOJ concludes its preliminary probe. 


JANUARY 29, 2018

FACING CHARGES. Caloocan policemen PO1 Jeremias Pereda, PO1 Jerwin Cruz, and PO3 Arnel Oares attend the Senate hearing on Kian delos Santos' case on August 24, 2017.€‹ File photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

The prosecution panel at the Department of Justice indict for murder 3 cops – Police Officer 3 Arnel Oares, Police Officer 1 Jerwin Cruz, Police Officer 1 Jeremias Pereda – and a civilian named Renato Perez Loveras.

“They’re being charged for murder because treachery was found to be present because the sudden and unexpected attack on the hapless victim Kian was clear and convincing,” Acting Prosecutor General Jorge Catalan says. 

FEBRUARY 7, 2018

Caloocan City Regional Trial Court Branch 125 orders the arrest of the 3 cops and an informant. 

JULY 12, 2018

Caloocan RTC Branch 125 Judge Rodolfo Azucena Jr denies in open court a bid by the defense to avoid presenting its own evidence. He also denies a manifestation of defense lawyer Oliver Yuan to file a demurrer of evidence, which is a motion to dismiss the case on the basis of weak evidence on the part of the prosecution.

AUGUST 28, 2018

JUSTICE. A commemorative marker is unveiled on the death anniversary of Kian delos Santos. Photo by Maria Tan/Rappler

A memorial marker for Kian Loyd delos Santos is unveiled at the San Roque Cathedral, Caloocan City. It seeks to remember not just him but all the victims of the violent war on drugs.

AUGUST 23, 2018

Accused PO1 Jeremias Pereda tells the court that the accounts of eyewitnesses in the death of Delos Santos are not valid conclusions. He insists there is no full-proof way of ascertaining it was Delos Santos whom they were dragging as captured by the CCTV that night.  

AUGUST 30, 2018  

PO1 Jerwin Cruz, one of the accused cops, maintains that the boy they were dragging was a police asset and not Delos Santos. He says they told the asset to cover his face to avoid being recognized by the community. 

Caloocan RTC Branch 125 concludes its trial and sets the promulgation for November 29.

The accused’s legal counsel Oliver Yuan says he is optimistic there would be an acquittal, saying that “if we’re going to base everything on the law, we should get an acquittal.”

NOVEMBER 29, 2018

Caloocan RTC Branch 125 finds 3 Caloocan policemen – Oares, Pereda, and Cruz – guilty of murdering  Kian delos Santos. They are sentenced to reclusion perpetua, or imprisonment for 20 to 40 years, without eligibility for parole.

In the 35-page decision, Judge Rodolfo Azucena Jr says:

The court commiserates with our policemen who regularly thrust their lives in zones of danger in order to maintain peace and order and acknowledges the apprehension faced by their families whenever they go on duty… But the use of unnecessary force or wanton violence is not justified when the fulfilment of their duty as law enforcers can be effected otherwise. A shoot first, think later attitude can never be countenanced in a civilized society.”

The cops were found not guilty of planting firearms and drugs.

August 15, 2022

The remains of Kian are exhumed from his grave at the La Loma Cemetery in Caloocan City after almost five years since his death.

The exhumation is conducted with the help of Project Arise under the St. Arnold Janssen Kalinga Center, led by Catholic priest Flavie Villanueva.

The project has also helped other families of drug war victims retrieve their loved ones’ remains once their cemetery leases expire.

Kian’s remains will be reexamined by forensic expert Dr. Raquel Fortun to “uncover deeper truth,” according to Villanueva.

Kian’s uncle Randy delos Santos says his body will be transferred to another gravesite in the same cemetery.

 – Rappler.com

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Jodesz Gavilan

Jodesz Gavilan is a writer and researcher for Rappler and its investigative arm, Newsbreak. She covers human rights and impunity beats, producing in-depth and investigative reports particularly on the quest for justice of victims of former president Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs and war on dissent.