Explanation needed – Manila Standard


posted August 28, 2017 at 12:01 am

WE view with grave concern the statement from the Public Attorney’s Office that the Caloocan City policemen involved in the killing of 17-year-old Kian delos Santos might become state witnesses should they come clean and help ensure that the boy’s family finds justice.

Delos Santos, who was buried Saturday amid simmering public outrage over police impunity, was shot dead in a dark Caloocan City alley on Aug. 16 by policemen who were seen dragging the boy to the area where his body was found. They tried to justify his execution by saying the boy fired at them first, but the claim was contradicted by eyewitnesses and the autopsy report that showed no gunpowder residue on either of the teenager’s hands.

The PAO, acting as legal counsel to the Delos Santos family, filed a murder and torture complaint against the policemen Friday.

With several witnesses willing to testify, the case against the policemen seemed strong. So we were surprised to hear talk about having them turn state witness.

“If anyone of those charged would turn into a state witness, it would be good because God could even forgive him—if remorse was there,” PAO chief Persida Acosta told a radio interview in Filipino.

Because she did not elaborate, we do not know what possible motive she would have in offering the main suspects in the killing the status as a state witness, which suggests that they would get immunity in exchange for their testimony.

But to be considered state witnesses, the policemen should be the least guilty and must testify against their associates or accomplices.

Can the policeman who pulled the trigger that ended the life of the Grade 11 student ever be considered the least guilty? We think not, particularly since the PAO’s own forensic experts who performed an autopsy on the teenager concluded that he was shot in the back then took two more gunshot wounds to the head at close range. And if we subscribe to the view, as we do, that the shooter’s companions who lied to cover up the murder, were just as guilty, we really do not see the point in offering any of them to become a state witness.

Of course, we are not in possession of all the facts. But the PAO chief cannot simply offer a suggestion that seems so revolting without a reasonable—and convincing—explanation about why such a drastic move should even be considered.

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