By Kristine Joy V. Patag
RESPONDING TO calls for his inhibition from murder raps against cops in Kian Loyd delos Santos’s killing on Aug. 17, Justice Secretary Vitaliano N. Aguirre II on Monday said: “I will not even touch that case.”
A group of student leaders yesterday joined Senator Ana Theresia Hontiveros-Baraquel’s call to Mr. Aguirre to inhibit himself from the murder case against Caloocan City Chief Inspector Amor Cerillo and three other policemen.
Student leaders from the University of the Philippines College of Law and members of the Millennials Against Dictators, also yesterday, criticized Mr. Aguirre’s pronouncements as malicious. “His various statements about the case (have) shown that he’s already made up his mind about the case. He called Kian’s death overblown and the witnesses ‘brainwashed.’ All of this, apparently in efforts to continue the war on drugs, a known failure as a policy measure,” they said.
Mr. Delos Santos was killed in the course of an anti-drug campaign in Caloocan City. CCTV footage showed him being accosted by the policemen toward a street corner where he was later shot dead, but the accused cops said they were accosting a police asset, not the boy.
For his part, Mr. Aguirre said in a text message to reporters: “These so-called student leaders are misinformed or ignorant of our procedures at the DoJ,” he said in a text message to reporters.
“At the moment, the prosecutors at the National Prosecution Service will handle it. Even on appeal, I will not handle the case. The cases on appeal are assigned to my [five Undersecretaries],” he added.
In a separate statement by the DoJ, Mr. Aguirre reiterated: “The violent taking of the life of our youth is deplorable. It simply cannot be allowed to go unpunished. And I give my solemn reassurances to everyone that the ones responsible for this dastardly act will be punished to the full extent of the law.”
The boy’s parents, Saldy F. delos Santos and Lorenza D. delos Santos, were represented by Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) chief Persida V. Rueda-Acosta, in filing complaints against Mr. Cerillo and the now-relieved cops, Police Officer 3 (PO3) Arnel Oares, PO1 Jerwin Cruz, and PO1 Jeremias Pereda last Friday, Aug. 25.
Mr. Aguirre and Ms. Hontiveros-Baraquel have since been exchanging barbed , asking each other from inhibiting the case.
Ms. Hontiveros-Baraquel said the justice chief is destroying the capability of the witnesses by insinuating that they are susceptible to her influences. “Bakit parang mas paniniwalaan pa niya ang mga testimoniya na convicted na halimbawa na drug lord, kesa paniwalaan niya ang mga bata na takot na takot na traumatized na nga pero naglalabas pa rin ng sarili nilang katotohaan? (Why would he be more inclined to believe the testimony of a convicted drug lord, for example, than these children who are afraid and traumatized but are still coming out with their truth?)” she added.
Mr. Aguirre fired back that the senator should likewise inhibit from the Senate investigation on Mr. Delos Santos’s death, as “her fairness and impartiality are under question.”
During the Senate investigation Thursday last week, it was established that Mr. Delos Santos’s alleged involvement in illegal drugs was based on unverified social media .
The Senate is scheduled to hold an executive session today, Aug. 29, on the Delos Santos murder.
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