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