Huge crowds attended a funeral procession today (Saturday, August 26) for the teenager shot by police last week, making the march one of the largest protests yet against President Duterte’s war on drugs.
The death of 17-year-old Kian Loyd delos Santos has drawn fresh attention to accusations that police are engaged in a campaign of extra-judicial killings — a charge the authorities deny.
Nuns, priests and hundreds of children, chanting “justice for Kian, justice for all” joined the funeral cortege as it made its way from a church to the cemetery where the student was buried.
The boy’s father, Saldy, spoke briefly during a mass to defend his son’s innocence and express anger over the police. “Don’t they have a heart?” he asked. “I’m not sure they do. There’s a lot of churches, they should go there.”
Shot in the head
According to witnesses and CCTV footage, Delos Santos was dragged by plain-clothes policemen to a dark alley in Caloocan, Metro Manila, before being shot in the head.
Police say they acted in self defence after delos Santos opened fire on them using a gun recovered from the right-handed teenager’s left hand.
The parents and lawyers of delos Santos filed a murder complaint against the three anti-narcotics policemen yesterday.
The complaint follows at least two other cases filed last year against police over alleged drug-war killings.
Delos Santos’ flower-draped coffin passed along a main road atop a small truck decorated with tarpaulins reading “Run, Kian, Run” and “Stop the killings”. Passing motorists honked in support.
Renato Reyes, secretary general of left-wing activist group Bayan (Nation), said: “This is a sign that the people have had enough and are indignant over the impunity that prevails today.
“The people protest the utter lack of accountability in the police force.”
Mourners wore white shirts
Mourners, some of them wearing white shirts, held flowers and small flags, and placards denouncing the killing.
A member of Rise Up, a Manila-based coalition of church-related groups opposing the drug war, told Reuters that families of about 20 other victims had joined the procession.
Department of Justice personnel armed with assault rifles were on guard during the procession and church service.
A solid majority of Filipinos continue to support the anti-drug campaign, but fresh voices are joining the chorus of criticism since the death of Delos Santos amid a bloody week of killings across Luzon last week.
The president’s communication office reiterated today that he would not tolerate wrongdoing by law enforcers and called on the public to “trust the justice system under the Duterte presidency.”