3 cops found guilty of killing OFW’S son

A Metro Manila re­gional court finds three po­lice­men, in­clud­ing two rook­ies, guilty for the mur­der of a 17-year-old son of an over­seas Filipino worker

The Gulf Today - - ASIA - BY MANOLO B. JARA

MANILA: A Metro Manila re­gional court on Thurs­day found three po­lice­men, in­clud­ing two rook­ies, guilty for the mur­der of a 17-yearold son of an over­seas Filipino worker (OFW) in the first ever rul­ing that ex­tra-ju­di­cial killings are, in­deed, a re­al­ity in the Duterte ad­min­is­tra­tion’s bloody and vi­o­lent war on il­le­gal drugs.

Con­victed by the Caloocan City re­gional court in Metro Manila were Po­lice Ofi­cer 3 Ar­nel Oares as well as rook­ies Po­lice Ofi­cers 1 Jer­win Cruz and Jeremias Pereda who were sen­tenced to a maxim prison term of 40 years, or “reclu­sion per­petua” (life im­pris­on­ment) each with “no pos­si­bil­ity of pa­role.” The court found the three guilty be­yond rea­son­able doubt for shoot­ing to death Kian de­los San­tos, 17, a Grade 11 stu­dent in Caloocan City and the son of an OFW who worked as a maid in the Mid­dle East.

Aside from their stiff prison terms, the court also or­dered the three po­lice­men to pay to the fam­ily of the vic­tim a to­tal of more than $7,000 rep­re­sent­ing civil, in­dem­nity and moral dam­ages.

But the court ac­quit­ted the po­lice­men of a sep­a­rate crim­i­nal com­plaint of plant­ing ev­i­dence against De­los San­tos whose killing on Aug. 16, 2017 drew na­tion­wide anger and protests over al­leged ram­pant hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions in the vi­o­lent war on il­le­gal drugs and ram­pant crim­i­nal­ity.

In con­vict­ing the ac­cused, the court threw out their claim, based on the strength of ev­i­dence and wit­nesses pre­sented that be­lied their claim they killed De­los San­tos for al­legedly ight­ing back with a gun in a “le­git­i­mate” an­ti­il­le­gal drugs op­er­a­tion in a “barangay” (vil­lage) in Caloocan City.

In its de­ci­sion, the court said that while it “com­mis­er­ates” with the po­lice­men who risk their lives to main­tain peace, it ruled that un­nec­es­sary force or wan­ton vi­o­lence “is not justi­ied when they can fulil their duty oth­er­wise.” “A shout irst, think later at­ti­tude can never be coun­te­nanced in a civ­i­lized so­ci­ety. Never has homi­cide been a func­tion of law en­force­ment,” the court em­pha­sized.

The mother of De­los San­tos who de­cided not to re­turn to the Mid­dle East led the fam­ily in wel­com­ing the court rul­ing as she ex­pressed the hope it would have a “chill­ing ef­fect” for po­lice­men who claim they killed drug sus­pects who tried to ight back in­stead of sur­ren­der­ing.

In Mala­canang Palace, Sal­vador Panelo, the pres­i­den­tial spokesman, al­layed fears from cer­tain sec­tors that Pres­i­dent Duterte might later par­don the con­victed po­lice­men, cit­ing his as­sur­ance he would pro­tect them if they would be charged in court in con­nec­tion with the war on drugs.

“The pres­i­dent,” Panelo em­pha­sized, “will never tol­er­ate po­lice­men who in­ten­tion­ally kill, who had done it not in ac­cor­dance with the per­for­mance of their du­ties. Ob­vi­ously, the con­vic­tion is mur­der which is in­ten­tional and then I don’t think the pres­i­dent will par­don them.”

The Philip­pine Na­tional Po­lice (PNP) ear­lier re­ported that more than 4,000 peo­ple have been killed since the Duterte ad­min­is­tra­tion launched the war on il­le­gal drugs and ram­pant crim­i­nal­ity in June 2016.

But hu­man rights ad­vo­cates and sim­i­lar con­cerned groups claimed the num­ber of those slain was much larger and es­ti­mated at close to 12,000 due to ex­tra ju­di­cial killings they blamed on “vig­i­lante” groups with close links to the po­lice.

Agence France-presse

Sup­port­ers of Kian de­los San­tos protest out­side the po­lice sta­tion where three po­lice­men in­volved in Kian’s killing were as­signed in Manila on Thurs­day.

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