Duterte to foes: Oust me if you can
Joins call for probe of killing, vows no sacred cows
President Rodrigo Duterte said there will be no sacred cows in the killing of 17-year-old Grade 11 student Kian delos Santos even as he dared his critics to stage an uprising against him.
“I will even send trucks for your transportation. Go ahead. I am waiting for that actually, so there will be a change in president and a new government that is working,” he said.
“If there is an uprising, go ahead all those who do not believe in me. Let us have an uprising,” the President said.
Duterte, who used to say that he will protect policemen who will be charged with cases over the government’s bloody anti-drug war, said he agrees the killing of Delos Santos should be investigated by the National Bureau of Investigation.
“Let us wait for the investigation. If there is criminal liability, I will order the prosecution to the full extent of the law. I can guarantee you that,” Duterte said in a press conference late Monday evening.
“There will be prosecution and they will go to jail if convicted,” Duterte said.
The President said he opted not to go to the wake of the gunned down minor because it could put undue pressure on the policemen involved in the anti-narcotics campaign.
“When I saw the video [of the killing], I immediately told [Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa] Bato to have them [policemen arrested immediately,” Duterte said. “If the suspect has already been arrested, if he is already on his knees and then you shoot him, that will be murder or homicide.”
Politicians associated with the previous administration are using the mounting national outrage over Kian’s death to discredit the President, a Palace official said.
“We already expected this,” said Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, speaking in Filipino. “They will jump at any issue to demolish the presidency. It comes naturally for them—they won’t stop and will always be like that.”
But even allies of the President spoke out against Kian’s killing, after CCTV footage showed the teenager being dragged by two policemen to an alley where he was shot dead.
The country’s ambassador to the United Nations, Teodoro Locsin Jr., called the police idiots after Dela Rosa tried to discredit Kian by saying he was a drug courier.
“If the cops knew that, Kian was the best witness to the awfulness of the drug trade—and they had to go kill him like a pig. Wow. Bobo (Idiots),” Locsin wrote on his Twitter account.
Duterte’s allies in the Senate also assailed the killing of Kian and said they would investigate the liability of the policemen involved in the war on drugs that may have resulted in “unnecessary and unjustified” deaths.
Fourteen of the 17 members of the majority bloc led by Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III on Sunday night signed a resolution expressing the sense of the Senate to condemn Kian’s killing and the rash of killings following intensified anti-drug operations.
The senators also sought to review the conduct of anti-drug operations by the PNP as well as its capacity to hold erring officials within their ranks liable for the commission of any crime.
The Senate resolution said eyewitness accounts and CCTV footage contradicted the narrative of the policemen involved, and revealed that the teenager, who was already arrested, was forced to hold a gun and told to run, then shot dead when he did.
“The apparent abuses by the police in undertaking these drug operations have resulted in a series of tragedies such as that of Delos Santos,” the senators said. “Similar incidents require deeper scrutiny to ensure the accountability of the PNP.”
They also slammed the PNP Internal Affairs Service for moving sluggishly to investigate such cases.
The Senate committee in public order and illegal drugs, chaired by Senator Panfilo Lacson, will start its investigation on these issues Thursday.
Lacson said he will send out the notices to those who will be summoned to the hearing once the resolution is officially referred to his committee during the plenary session on Tuesday.
Dela Rosa will be among those invited to the hearing.
The panel will also hear from other police officials, the National Bureau of Investigation, key witnesses who are in the custody of Senator Risa Hontiveros, the IAS, the Caloocan policemen involved in the killing, and barangay officials who have control over the CCTV, and Kian’s father.
Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said that while he supports the President’s campaign against drugs, he cannot condone the abuses committed by policemen.
“Those who abuse their authority and break the law must be held accountable and punished. The purpose of the hearing is to determine who are accountable and to strengthen our institutions to deal with these issues,” he said.
Senator Grace Poe said killing drug suspects should not be seen as a contest among different police units, and said the government would lose the war on drugs if this was not stopped.
Earlier, the minority bloc demanded that the Senate stand in solidarity against the senseless killings that claimed over 80 Filipinos, including Kian delos Santos.
Even Panelo said that assuming police claims about Kian being a drug courier were true, this did not justify his killing.
“Even if he was a drug runner, you cannot just kill somebody like that,” Panelo said in an interview over radio dwFM.
Panelo also said President Rodrigo Duterte would not condone the actions of the police, and that erring cops won’t go unpunished.
He also said the President would support the police, but those who abuse their authority will have to pay.
The Education Department also condemned the killing, and called on the President to “put in jail those who will be found responsible for the student’s death.”
“The Department of Education strongly condemns the shooting of Kian Loyd Delos Santos, a Grade 11 student of Our Lady of Lourdes [College] Senior High School in Valenzuela, by elements of the Caloocan police,” Education Secretary Leonor Briones said in a statement Sunday.
“The department denounces all forms of violence against our students, teachers, and personnel,” she added.
The Education Department said that while they support President Duterte’s directive to uphold the rule of law, an impartial investigation must be done to shed light on the incident.
“While we acknowledge that law enforcement is an important aspect in the government’s comprehensive efforts to battle illegal drugs, ensuring accuracy of information and upholding the rule of law should not be compromised,” the statement said.
Over the weekend, Vice President Leni Robredo visited Delos Santos’ wake to offer her condolences to Kian’s family.
She talked to his father Saldy and visited the scene where Kian was shot dead, including the area captured on CCTV where he was seen being dragged by policemen.
Robredo also offered help to Kian’s family, including providing free legal assistance, in coordination with the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG).
Robredo on Monday urged the Catholic Church to play a more active part in helping the poor and the marginalized.
Members of the Liberal Party-led opposition in the Senate scored the spate of killings in anti-drug operations in the past week, including Kian’s death.
Hontiveros took the family and witnesses under her custody and protection, while Senators Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, Franklin Drilon, and Leila de Lima condemned the incident.
Several protests were held Monday at Plaza Miranda, Caloocan City and Edsa to condemn Kian’s killing, branded by administration critics as a brutal display of state-sponsored killings which sparked public outrage and prompted calls for an investigation.
Liberal Party president Francis Pangilinan on Monday debunked that politicking was behind the mounting outrage over the killing of Kian delos Santos.
“This is not politicking but it is conviction of those opposed to the inhumane and unjust killing of Kian by policemen,” Pangilinan said in a text statement.
He also emphasized the growing anger over the spate of killings of poor suspects.
Pangilinan also welcomed the decision of the majority bloc in the Senate to condemn the killings in the war on drugs.
Commission on Human Rights Chairman Chito Gascon, who has clashed with Duterte before, said the President must be careful in what he says because people will take his words as state policy.
“When he said human rights defenders were fair targets, that could have a consequence,” he said.
Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle said that illegal drugs has divided the Filipino people, and everyone must act together to solve the drug menace.
The church leader made the statement following the death of at least 90 people, including Kian, in a massive police operation.
“We Filipinos agree that the menace of illegal drugs is real and destructive. We must face and act upon together, as one people. Unfortunately, it has divided us,” Tagle said in a statement.
“Let us invite families, national government agencies, local government units, people’s organizations, schools, faith-based communities, the medical profession, the police and military, recovering addicts etc. to come together, listen to each other and chart a common path,” the prelate said.
“The illegal drug problem should not be reduced to a political or criminal issue. It is a humanitarian concern that affects all of us. The Archdiocese of Manila would be willing to host such multi-sectoral dialogue,” he said.
In the House, Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat said the Palace seemed intent on isolating itself from the rest of decent, rational society.
“Doesn’t Malacañang realize that there are politicians who really find the assassination of a 17-year-old reprehensible and would like to condole and express outrage like the rest of decent society?”
Party-list Rep. Tom Villarin of Akbayan said the Palace’s attempts to brand the outrage as “yellow” only shows they want a whitewash.
“When their hands are tainted with red from the blood of EJK [extra judicial killings] victims, they paint it yellow. The outrage against Duterte knows no colors except the truth, justice and accountability,” said Villarin, an opposition lawmaker whose group is allied with the Liberal Party. With Rio N. Araja and Vito Barcelo