Shooting of Kian delos Santos
|Part of the Philippine Drug War|
Map of Metro Manila showing the location of Caloocan. Barangay 160 is located in the city's southern section.
|Date||August 16, 2017|
|Location||Barangay 160, Caloocan, Metro Manila, Philippines|
|Filmed by||CCTV camera owned by Barangay 160, Caloocan (partial footage)|
Chief Inspector Amor Cerillo|
Police Officer (PO) 3 Arnel Oares
PO1 Jerwin Cruz
PO1 Jeremias Pereda
|Outcome||Protests in Metro Manila in 21 August 2017|
|Deaths||Kian Loyd D. delos Santos|
On the evening of August 16, 2017, a 17-year-old Filipino student named Kian Loyd delos Santos was fatally shot by police officers conducting an anti-drug operation in Caloocan, Metro Manila. The case became controversial when the official police reports differed from witness accounts and CCTV footage.
Philippine drug war
In accordance with his campaign promise, President Rodrigo Duterte initiated the war on drugs shortly after he took office on June 30, 2016. As of July 26, 2017, the Philippine Information Agency reported 68,000 anti-drug operations which resulted in around 97,000 arrests, 1.3 million surrenders, and around 3,500 drug personalities killed in legitimate police operations. Thousands of others have been killed by vigilantes, which the police have categorized as "deaths under investigation". The night of August 14–15, just prior to Delos Santos's death, was the "bloodiest night" in the Philippine drug war, where dozens of police operations resulted in 32 drug suspects killed and more than 100 arrested in the province of Bulacan.
Kian Loyd delos Santos
|Kian Loyd delos Santos|
Kian Loyd D. delos Santos|
May 26, 2000
August 16, 2017 (aged 17)|
Barangay 160, Caloocan
|Cause of death||Gunshot wound to the head|
|Resting place||La Loma Cemetery|
|Education||Our Lady of Lourdes College, Valenzuela|
|Occupation||Senior high school student|
Kian Loyd D. delos Santos (May 26, 2000 – August 16, 2017) was 17 years old at the time of his death and was a resident of Barangay 160, Caloocan. Delos Santos was the third of four siblings. His mother, Lorenza, worked as a domestic helper in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, while his father, Saldy,[n 1] operated a sari-sari store which was manned by Kian from 5:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. every day before he went to school. After closing the store at night, he would usually walk around the block for some small talk with neighborhood friends. At the time of his death, he was a Grade 11 (senior high school) student at Our Lady of Lourdes College in Valenzuela. His high school principal stated that Delos Santos was never summoned to his office for any delinquency or misconduct. According to a classmate and close friend of his, Delos Santos wanted to become a cadet of the Philippine National Police Academy. Delos Santos was also in favor of the government's war on drugs, according to another classmate.
Both Senior Superintendent Chito Bersaluna, the Police Chief of Caloocan, and Chief Inspector Amor Cerillo, the commander of the local Police Community Precinct, have separately admitted that Delos Santos was not on their police watch list. However, they believed that he was a drug runner "based on a statement of another arrested drug suspect". The officials of Barangay 160, Caloocan also confirmed that Delos Santos was not on their drugs watch list.
On August 26, 2017, a Catholic funeral Mass for Delos Santos was held at 8 a.m., at a parish in Sta. Quiteria, Caloocan; it was attended by his family and friends, and hundreds of other people, including human rights advocates. At around 2 p.m., Delos Santos was interred at La Loma Cemetery.
At around 8:00 p.m PST on August 16, 2017, officers of the Philippine National Police (PNP) led by PO3 Arnel Oares, were conducting a "one-time, big-time" anti-illegal drugs operation in Barangay 160, Caloocan where Delos Santos lived. During the anti-drug operation, Delos Santos went missing for almost an hour, which prompted his family to look for him at the nearest police station but failed to find him there. Several gunshots were then heard.
At 8:57 p.m., C/Insp. Amor Cerillo and another police officer, both in plainclothes, arrived at the hall of Barangay 160 to report a supposed shootout. In a muddy and dark alley near his house, which was the site of the alleged encounter, Delos Santos was found in fetal position with gunshot wounds to his head. Recovered from his corpse were a .45-caliber pistol, four cartridges, and two sachets of suspected methamphetamine.
According to the official police report, at around 8:45 p.m, Delos Santos tried to flee when he noticed the police officers approaching him. He then drew his gun and "directly shot" towards the police, which prompted PO3 Arnel Oares to fire back in self-defense, killing Delos Santos. The pistol, cartridges, and two sachets of methamphetamine were then found in Delos Santos's possession.
Witness accounts and CCTV footage
Witnesses claim that Delos Santos was just loitering near his house at around 8:00 p.m., when two unidentified men grabbed him and led him away. The barangay's CCTV footage of the incident shows that at 8:24 p.m., a young man believed to be Delos Santos was being dragged by two men in plainclothes towards the area where his corpse would be later found. The video also showed a third man that headed towards the same direction.
Cerillo confirmed that the two men in the video were plainclothes police officers. He also clarified that the person being dragged was not Delos Santos, but rather a police asset. Bersaluna and Cirillo also clarified that police officers are not required to wear their uniforms during anti-illegal drugs operations.
Two witnesses who approached Dominic Almelor of ABS-CBN News claimed that Delos Santos was blindfolded by the two men and forced to hold a gun, fire it, and run. Another witness who approached Saleema Refran of GMA News claimed that Delos Santos begged for his life before getting shot. Afterwards, the shooters approached the witness and asked him if he knew the victim, which he denied. The witness later confirmed that the men who were filmed inside the barangay hall reporting the alleged shootout were the same men who shot Delos Santos.
Delos Santos's uncle, Randy, questioned the police claim that the victim had a concealed firearm, since his nephew was wearing boxers at that time. Delos Santos's father, Saldy, also pointed out that the pistol was recovered from the left hand of his otherwise right-handed son.
Public response and protests
Many Filipino netizens expressed outrage over Delos Santos's death. Both the hashtag #JusticeforKian and the phrase "Kian delos Santos" were among the top Philippine trends on Twitter on August 18. A rally titled Himagsikan para kay Kian ("Revolution for Kian") took place on August 21 (Ninoy Aquino Day) at the People Power Monument in Quezon City. Among the groups present were Akbayan, Alliance of Progressive Labor, Alyansa Tigil Mina, Sentro, Partido ng Manggagawa, Kalipunan ng Kilusang Masa, Block Marcos, Silent Minorities, and Kalipun. Senator Bam Aquino, former Bayan Muna Representative Teddy Casiño, and former Education Secretary Armin Luistro were also present. A moment of silence was held at 8:24 p.m., the same time Delos Santos was allegedly filmed being dragged by police officers on August 16. The protesters—numbering from 500 to 1,000—also called for the investigation of other drug war killings.
Earlier that same day, the Liberal Party Youth, with the support of other groups, also held a rally at Plaza Miranda in Manila, denouncing Delos Santos's killing. The rally also commemorated the 1971 Plaza Miranda bombing and the 1983 Assassination of Senator Ninoy Aquino.
During a press briefing on August 18, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella called the shooting of Delos Santos an "isolated" incident, and added "[President Duterte] will defend the police in their carrying out of duties. However, he will also not tolerate any abuse and any breaches of the law". On August 19, in an interview with Radyo Pilipinas, Assistant to the Presidential Spokesperson China Jocson stated: "Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella would like to make it clear that the violent death of any Filipino is one death too many, especially that of Kian Loyd delos Santos. This deeply regrettable incident has triggered deep public sentiment, and challenges those in law enforcement to be wary of the reckless exercise of power and authority." Also on the same day, the Department of Education released a statement saying it "strongly condemns" the killing of grade 11 student Kian Delos Santos and that while it acknowledged "efforts to battle illegal drugs," it maintained that "upholding the rule of law should not be compromised." The agency also said that it "denounces all forms of violence against our students, teachers, and personnel." Also on August 19, during an emergency peace and order council meeting, Caloocan Mayor Oscar Malapitan said "It seems hard to believe that a 17-year-old would shoot it out with three police officers" and added: "even if Kian were indeed a drug pusher, he shouldn't have been killed unless the cops were only defending themselves. The public perception is that the cops killed Kian when he was obviously helpless."
Senator JV Ejercito, through a series of tweets, described the incident as "very very disturbing" pointing out that Delos Santos was the same age as his eldest son. He recommended that the police officers involved should all be legally prosecuted. Senator Joel Villanueva called it the "breakdown of our humanity, with people cheering the killings of individuals who have not been proven guilty" and added that "we cannot allow lawlessness in this country". In a statement, Senator Francis Escudero described the police officers involved as "killers and criminals". While Senator Sonny Angara called for the reform of the justice system and decried vigilante justice and killings. In a statement, National Youth Commission chairperson Aiza Seguerra said: "We want to curb the drug menace; however, we are alarmed by the deaths and injury of minors in the process." Senators Antonio Trillanes, Risa Hontiveros, Win Gatchalian, and Loren Legarda also condemned the shooting of Delos Santos. Meanwhile, Senator Panfilo Lacson, a former police director general, insinuated that the PNP would cover up the incident.
On August 20, Vice President Leni Robredo visited the wake of Delos Santos and inspected the site of the shooting. On her weekly radio show on DZXL, Robredo condemned the shooting, saying: "kung nangyari sa kanya, puwedeng mangyari sa mga anak natin (if it happened to him, it could also happen to our children)" and later added "[I]lan na ba iyong Kian na dumaan? Ilan pa ba iyong Kian na mangyayari? Kaya tayo naman, kapag ganito, tingin ko obligasyon natin ipahayag iyong ating pagkamuhi sa ganitong klaseng pangyayari (How many Kians have we had? How many more Kians will follow? That's why when this happens, I think it is our obligation to express our condemnation)". During the visit, Robredo was accompanied by human rights lawyer Jose Manuel Diokno of the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG), who offered his legal services to the Delos Santos family. Other politicians who visited the wake include Senators Bam Aquino, Risa Hontiveros, and Antonio Trillanes, Kabataan Partylist representative Sarah Elago, Caloocan Mayor Oscar Malapitan, and former Vice President Jejomar Binay. Representatives from Amnesty International, the Commission on Human Rights, and Iglesia ni Cristo also visited Delos Santos's wake.
Kalookan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David condemned the shooting, calling it a "very specific case of abuse". Bishop David also criticized the ongoing drug war and the alleged abuses by the police. Father Antonio Moreno, head of the Society of Jesus in the Philippines, called Delos Santos's death a "heartless killing". Fellow Jesuit Father Jose Ramon Villarin, president of Ateneo de Manila University, also condemned the killing of Delos Santos. Lasallian Brother Armin Luistro, former Secretary of Education, called for "a minute of silence every night at 8:24 p.m. to remember Kian Loyd delos Santos and all innocent victims of merciless deaths in our land". Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, who is also the president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), ordered the churches in his archdiocese to ring their bells from 8:00 to 8:15 p.m. every night from August 22 to November 27 in honor of Delos Santos, and as "a call to stop approval of the killings."[n 2]
The chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), Director General Ronald dela Rosa expressed regret over Delos Santos's death, saying he was "very sorry for what happened". However, he added that he would rather see his police officers alive than dead. Dela Rosa also promised an investigation on the killing, saying: "Basta pag merong pang-aabuso hindi ko palalampasin 'yan". ("If there was indeed abuse [of authority] I will not let it pass"). Despite the incident, he guaranteed that the campaign against illegal drugs would continue. He also refused to visit Delos Santos's wake, believing it was inappropriate for him to do so, since the main suspects were police officers. He also claimed that visiting the wake would make him pretentious like the politicians.
President Rodrigo Duterte
When President Rodrigo Duterte saw the CCTV tape, he immediately called PNP Chief Ronald Bato Dela Rosa, and said "hulihin mo na at kulungin mo [ang mga pulis na dawit sa pagkasawi ni Kian]" (bring those policemen who are involved in Kian's killing to jail). The president also warned some police officers, for they are abusing their powers to do so.
The four police officers, who were tagged in the shooting of Delos Santos, were relieved from their posts. An autopsy was conducted on August 20, showed that Delos Santos sustained three gunshot wounds: the first entry point was at the back of the head, the second entry point was behind the left ear and the third entry point was inside the left ear.
The family of Delos Santos, on August 25, filed murder and torture charges against police officers involved in the drug operation.
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (September 2017)
The case of Kian delos Santos has been likened to the cases of other teenagers, 19-year-old Carl Arnaiz and 14-year-old Reynaldo "Kulot" De Guzman.
Arnaiz went missing for ten days; his dead body found on August 28 in a morgue in Caloocan. According to the Caloocan police Arnaiz was involved in a robbery at C-3 road. The police said that he declared a robbery to the driver of the vehicle he allegedly hit, and drew a gun. The driver reportedly sought help from the police and Arnaiz successfully shot PO1 Jefrey Perez and PO1 Ricky Arquta who in turn fired in retaliation causing the teenager's death. The police claimed in an August 30 report that they retrieved two packs of marijuana in his pocket and three packs of a substance suspected to be methamphetamine in his backpack.
A Cainta, Rizal resident, Arnaiz left his house with de Guzman to eat midnight snacks on August 17 according to his parents. Arnaiz's father says that his son's only vice is smoking and denied he possessed said contraband.
De Guzman's alleged body was found floating in Kinamatayang Kabayo creek in the town of Gapan, Nueva Ecija. De Guzman's father theorized that his son may have been killed so he could not testify against the killers of Arnaiz. The Philippine National Police conducted a DNA test on the corpse and said that the body is not De Guzman's. However, his parents dispute the findings saying that they are certain that the body is that of their son.
Notes and References
- Spelled "Zaldy" in some sources.
- Translated from Filipino: Ang tunog ng kampana ay tawag na ihinto ang pagsang-ayon sa patayan.
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