Obstacle to investigations
ONE obstacle to investigations into recent killings is the absence of witnesses or the failure of family members or persons with knowledge on possible motive to come forward.
The killing of Grade 11 pupil Kian Loyd delos Santos by policemen became a rallying point for citizens protesting the spate of killings of those suspected of involvement in the drug trade. His funeral procession last Saturday was joined by hundreds of people calling for justice for the 17-yearold student and an end to illegal drugs-related killings.
The case of delos Santos was different in some ways from other similar deaths. First, his parents, Saldy and Lorenza delos Santos, had a sit-down with President Rodrigo Duterte yesterday, or two days after their son’s burial. Not all such killings get the attention of the President. If they do, it may be for Duterte to insist on the need to go after those in the illegal drugs trade. Reports on the parents’ meeting with Duterte said the President was inclined to believe there was police abuse and he promised the parents that the policemen, if proven guilty, will stay in jail.
Second, unlike investigations into other killings, there were witnesses to events immediately leading to delos Santos’s death and these witnesses are being protected by the Senate from threats to their safety. Families of other victims would rather keep their mouths shut because they lacked resources to seek justice or they feared for their own safety should they demand action. The delos Santos couple has made public their commitment to seek justice for their son who was dragged to an alley by policemen, told to hold a gun to resist arrest, then shot twice in the head.
There have been killings in the past that did not have witnesses, did not have video recordings of events. There have been cases of grieving families feeling alone and isolated, that they had no one to talk to, not the police and not the President.
The killing of former journalist Michael D. Marasigan and his brother Cristopher last Aug. 3 by two gunmen on a motorcycle was one such case where there were no witnesses and no development so far in the investigation.
Michael Marasigan was a communications consultant to some government officials when he was killed. Cristopher acted as his driver. While their deaths were not tagged as drug-related, there has been no movement in the police investigation on motive or mastermind. Not a hint as to why they were killed.
Any serious effort to put an end to these killings must consider creating an atmosphere of trust so families of those killed and witnesses would have the courage to speak up and aid in the i n vest i gat i o n .
Duterte’s promise to go after the policemen-killers of Kian Loyd delos Santos is a signal to law enforcers to not abuse their powers. But there must be more that can be done to allow witnesses to come out and grieving families to demand justice without fear of retaliation.