MANILA — The family of Grade 11 student Kian Loyd Delos Santos, who was killed during anti-drug operations in Caloocan City last August 16, has filed criminal charges against four police officers before the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Friday.
Saldy and Lorenza Delos Santos, parents of Kian, accompanied by Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) chief Persida Rueda-Acosta, filed a complaint for violations of the Revised Penal Code for murder, and Republic Act 9745 or the Anti-Torture Law, against Caloocan City Station 7 chief, Insp. Amor Cerillo; Police Officer 3 Arnel Oares; Police Officers 1 Jeremiah Pereda and Jerwin Cruz; and several “John Does.”
Cerillo and the three policemen were already relieved from their posts and placed under restrictive custody.
Acosta said included in the complaint are the police officers positively identified by the witnesses as those who arrested and dragged Kian before he was shot dead.
Based on the complaint affidavit of Kian’s father, he asked his son to clean their sari-sari store around 7 p.m. on Aug. 16, 2017, because he has to go out to buy supplies for their store.
While on his way home an hour later, a fruit vendor told him that his son was taken by the police.
“Agad akong nagtungo sa Police Community Precinct 7-Sta. Queteria, Caloocan City. Pagdating ko roon ay nagtanong ako sa pulisya kung mayroon silang nahuling menor de edad na nagngangalang Kian Loyd Delos Santos. Sabi sa akin ng pulis ay wala daw silang nahuli na may ganong pangalan,” Kian’s father said.
Delos Santos said he went back to his house with his brother Randy. Upon arrival, he said many people are already waiting outside their house and told them that his son was by the creek and already dead.
Attached to the complaint are testimonies of witnesses, autopsy report, photos of the autopsy, among others.
The parents of Kian personally subscribed to their complaint affidavit before Assistant State Prosecutor Tofel Austria.
Acosta said she will ask Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II to place the witnesses under the DOJ’s Witness Protection Program (WPP).
Acosta is hoping the three witnesses to Kian’s killing, now under the protective custody of the Senate, will soon be turned over to the PAO.
“Alam ninyo naman, naho-hold sila doon, nasa office ng Sergeant at Arms. Senate na ang protective custody. We hope that the Senate, Sen. Ping Lacson, will turn over sa DOJ para matapos itong preliminary investigation. Kung hindi ma-turn over, then so be it. Wala tayong magagawa.Meron naman tayo complete witness,” she noted.
Acosta is confident the case will stand in court because of the CCTV footage as well as the testimony of witnesses.
“Malakas because of the help of the CCTV. There are witnesses that we presented today. Meron din tayo sa character evidence ni Kian, ng classmate niya na naospital at binilhan niya ng pagkain matapos niya ibenta ang t-shirt niya for something, at yung cellphone na sinangla para makatulong sa kaklase,” Acosta told reporters.
Acosta said they have five witnesses including those who have seen Kian being dragged, choked and punched. The five witnesses are different from the three witnesses under the custody of Senator Risa Hontiveros.
“In criminal cases, hindi paramihan ng testigo. Basta credible ang witness mo, kahit lima lang yan, apat lang yan, pwede na po iyun. Basta credible,” she said.
Acosta said they could dispense with the 13 and 16-year-old witnesses under Hontiveros’ custody because they already have witnesses with the same testimony.
But they are still working out to get the third witness, the 31-year old who allegedly saw the police gave Kian a gun and told him to run.
A forensic exam conducted by the PAO also indicated that Kian sustained three gunshot wounds in his head and at the back, and was shot while lying face down.
Acosta explained that the pieces of evidence pointed to a possible murder case as they indicated an element of treachery.
Earlier, Aguirre has already ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to conduct a parallel investigation into Delos Santos’ death.
Aguirre issued Department Order No. 546 directing NBI Director Dante Gierran to conduct a probe and case build-up over the death of Delos Santos, 17, and to file appropriate charges against the involved policemen.
Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police (PNP) welcomed the move of Kian’s family in filing criminal charges against the officers implicated in the incident.
“The PNP welcomes the filing of criminal charges so that the police personnel involved can have their day in court and present their defense,” PNP spokesperson Chief Supt. Dionardo Carlos said Friday.
Carlos also urged the public to allow formal criminal investigations to proceed and not rush into any conclusion or judgment.
“At this point, the said police personnel are still innocent until proven otherwise by the court hearing their case. Let us also accord them their rights,” Carlos said. (Christopher Lloyd Caliwan, with Priam Nepomuceno/PNA)