US envoy weighs in as outrage snowballs
US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim expressed hopes Tuesday that those who killed 17-year-old Kian Loyd delos Santos in an anti-drug police operation would be held fully accountable.
Kim also offered condolences to the family of the 11-grader who was shot dead last week by police who claimed he was a drug runner.
Outrage over Delos Santos’ killing spread to Filipinos working in Hong Kong.
“He was only 17 years old,” said Eman Villanueva, Bayan Hongkong & Macau chairman. “He planned to finish schooling to help his family. He planned to go overseas. He planned to be a cop. It’s paradoxical that he was killed by a bunch of cops.”
Villanueva said the killing of Delos Santos, whose mother worked in the Middle East, should cause other Filipinos working abroad to reflect on the dangers of blindly following President Rodrigo Duterte, who won the highest number of votes from overseas Filipinos.
“The drug war implemented by a rotten and corrupt system and framed on murdering with impunity has also claimed family members of OFWs including innocent ones like Delos Santos,” he said.
“While the drug war remains on a murderous streak and not on resolving the causes that enable the drug problem, our people including our loved ones will not be secure,” he added.
Bayan Hongkong & Macau urged the government to prosecute the police officers involved in the killing, but said Duterte “should be viewed as equally guilty.”
“His war on drugs has left a generation of families mourning for unnatural deaths; deaths that could have been avoided were drug use viewed as an issue covered by several factors, including the systemic poverty these families are mired in,” Villanueva said.
The minority bloc at the Senate called for an inquiry into the recent spate of killings in operations by the police against drug suspects.
“There is a need not only attain justice for Kian and other victims of abuse by the state in the hands of our law enforcers and authorities, but also to reassess and change the strategy of the administration’s drug war, which unjustly targets the poor and the helpless while failing to address the root causes of the drug menace in the country,” said a resolution filed by Senators Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, Leila de Lima, Franklin Drilon, Risa Hontiveros, Francis Pangilinan, and Antonio Trillanes IV.
“It is high time to end police abuse during drug raids. The police should be reminded of their mandate to protect the citizens, especially the helpless and the poor,” Aquino said.
Senator Antonio Trillanes IV said the investigation should be aimed not only at purging police ranks of personnel implicated in the killing and abuse of drug suspects, but also at providing accountability for those found erring.
“Relieving certain personnel without making them suffer the consequences of their action will not make a dent,” Trillanes said.
The past week saw at least 80 people dead in a series of raids in Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas and Valenzuela and contiguous cities in northern Metro Manila as part of President Rodrigo Duterte’s brutal war on drugs.
Since July 1, 2016, security forces and “unidentified gunmen” have killed at least 7,000 suspected drug users and dealers, including 3,116 killings by police, and 31 children, the resolution said.
In simultaneous operations in Caloocan on Aug. 16, 12 people were killed, including Kian, who was found dead in the site of the encounter, lying face down in a fetal position, with three gunshot wounds, one to his back and two to his head.
Opposition lawmakers in the House pushed for an independent fact-finding commission that will look into the killings in Duterte administration’s war on illegal drugs.
Reps. Edcel Lagman of Albay, Teddy Baguilat of Ifugao and Gary Alejano of Magdalo Party-list said extrajudicial killings of drug suspects must stop.
Lagman said the creation of an impartial fact-finding commission composed of retired jurists may be the answer to stopping the escalating killing of drug suspects.
Also on Tuesday, the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor urged the calling of an interagency meeting to discuss how to protect urban poor communities from scalawags in uniform.
This was the statement of Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor chairman Terry Ridon as President Rodrigo Duterte ordered a full investigation into the death of Delos Santos.
Ridon said interagency cooperation with the Philippine National Police and the Justice Department is important in efforts to make sure that police operations in urban poor communities do not go beyond what is allowed by the law.
“The President has made clear that he will not tolerate abuses perpetrated by the police conducting drug operations. This message is most important in urban poor communities, where the bulk of drug operations occur. We cannot allow erring policemen to go unpunished,” said Ridon.