Warn­ing to the po­lice, EJK vic­tims’ hope

Sun Star Bacolod - - Opinion -

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

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