Warning to the police, EJK victims’ hope
THE conviction of three Caloocan City policemen who killed a 17-year-old student who was mistaken as a drug courier will serve as a warning to our law enforcers not to engage in extra-judicial killing (EJK) in the war against illegal drugs. This will also encourage the families of EJK victims to pursue the search for the truth and justice.
Caloocan Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 125 Presiding Judge Rodolfo Azucena found guilty PO3
Arnel Oares, PO1 Jeremias Pereda and PO1 Jerwin
Cruz of murdering Kian Lloyd delos Santos and sentenced them to reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment. The incident happened in August of last year during an anti-narcotics operation in Baesa, Caloocan City.
The court considered the testimony of witnesses, among them a 14-year-old girl and an elderly resident who saw the three policemen and a police asset drag delos Santos from his house to a dark alley where he was killed. The police claimed that Kian was a drug courier who fired at them while resisting arrest. But security video footage showed two of the policemen dragging the unarmed Kian moments before he was shot dead near a pig pen.
“The three all acted in furtherance of their common design and purpose- -to kill the victim,” the court said. The witnesses said Kian begged for his life.
“Tama na po, may exam pa ako bukas,” he pleaded.
Sus, pagkasalbahis mga pulisa. In some “legitimate” police operations, the usual claim of law enforcers is that the victim was “nanlaban” (resisting arrest or fired at them first) prompting them to return fire.
But relatives of the victims would often say that the victims were shot by cops for no apparent reason.
Why would this serve as a warning to our law enforcers? Because I know that there are cases similar to Kian that happened here. Do you think that all those operations conducted by the police in our locality against persons involved in illegal drugs were aboveboard and there were no extra judicial killings? I am sure that there were. It just happened that no brave witness would stand for the truth in these cases unlike those who stood for Kian.
This is the dilemma of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) in conducting EJP probes. Cases will not prosper if there are no witnesses. Worse, the relatives of the victims will not also pursue the search for justice because they are afraid of the authorities.
With the Kian case, I hope our law enforcers will no longer “short cut” the process and instead observe the rule of law in dealing with suspected drug personalities. I know some law enforcers are encouraged to engage in EJK because of the promise of rewards and assurance by the powers that they will be supported. I heard that policemen who kill drug personalities are given financial rewards and legal support by the government.
But look at the Kian case. Malacañang is washing its hands of it. An official even said that the President won’t pardon the convicted policemen. Gilaglag sila. Karon, kinsa may makaluluoy?
As for the relatives of EJK victims, don’t be afraid and lose hope. There is still justice in this country./ Sunstar Cebu