Three Caloocan police officers have been found guilty of murdering 17-year-old Kian delos Santos during an anti-drug operation.
At a court in Caloocan today (Thursday, November 29) presiding Judge Rodolfo Azucena sentenced police officers Arnel Oares, Jeremias Pereda and Jerwin Cruz to 40-year imprisonment without parole. The suspects were also ordered to pay 345,000 pesos in damages to Kian’s family.
“The use of unnecessary or wanton violence is not justified when the fulfilment of their duty as law enforcers can be effected otherwise. A ‘shoot first, think later’ attitude can never be countenanced in a civilised society,” the judge said.
The court ruled that the actions of the three police officers were “immediately cloaked with impunity” to ensure Kian will be killed because there was no opportunity for the youngster to defend himself.
“Accused Pereda and Oares shot Kian while Cruz, a fellow police officer stood guard without any provocation from Kian and making it impossible for him to retaliate,” it said.
However, the cops were found not guilty of planting illegal drugs and firearms on Kian. The case against police asset Renato “Nono” Loveras was archived “pending his apprehension”. The court ordered the issuance of his arrest warrant.
Kian, a Grade 11 student, was found dead with gunshots to his head after a so-called “one-time, big-time” anti-illegal drugs operation by the Caloocan City police in August last year.
Police claimed that the youngster drew a firearm, which prompted them to fire back. However, accounts from witnesses and a closed-circuit television showed two men in civilian clothes dragging Kian across a basketball court. Two small sachets of suspected shabu, a gun and four fired cartridge cases were recovered at the scene of the encounter.
Witnesses also claimed the Kian was told to run and was handed a gun.
The Caloocan policemen alleged Kian was a drug runner, but the teenager’s family vehemently denied the allegation.
Kian’s death sparked public outrage and cast doubt on the government’s controversial war on drugs. Amid criticisms, Duterte defended the police, saying it’s an “insult” to say they had a policy to kill.
This guilty verdict marks the first conviction under President Duterte’s war on drugs.
The parents of Kian welcomed the verdict. His mother, Lorenza, said she hopes the conviction sends a chilling warning to state forces involved in extrajudicial killings.
She said: “This conviction could scare them because this is proof they can be jailed for life if they continue these unacceptable acts.”
Responding to the verdict, national police chief Oscar Albayalde — who assumed his role some time after the killing — said: “This will not cause us to waiver a bit in our resolve to rid this society of the menace of illegal drugs. We will be equally resolute in standing behind our front line personnel toiling in this war while fully upholding the constitutional rights of everyone.”
Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo has ruled out a pardon for the three cops. At a press conference today, he said: “The president, as I said earlier, will never tolerate policemen who intentionally kill, who have done it not in accordance with the performance of their duty. So obviously, if the conviction is murder, which is intentional, then I don’t think the president will pardon them.”
Follow our Facebook page for daily news updates