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7 witnesses tag Caloocan cops in Kian’s slay

The Department of Justice (DOJ) yesterday started its preliminary investigation on criminal charges against four policemen involved in the killing of 17-year-old high school student Kian delos Santos during an anti-narcotics operation in Caloocan City last Aug. 16. AP/File

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Justice (DOJ) yesterday started its preliminary investigation on criminal charges against four policemen involved in the killing of 17-year-old high school student Kian delos Santos during an anti-narcotics operation in Caloocan City last Aug. 16. 

Delos Santos’ parents Saldy and Lorenza appeared at the hearing and subscribed to their complaint for murder and torture against Chief Insp. Amor Cerillo, Police Officer 3 Arnel Oares and Police Officers 1 Jeremiah Pereda and Jerwin Cruz of Caloocan City police Station 7.

Their lead counsel, Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) chief Persida Rueda-Acosta, also presented seven of 16 witnesses before the investigating panel of prosecutors.

The witnesses, who all appeared with faces covered with scarves, affirmed their respective affidavits in support of the allegations against the four police respondents. Their names were withheld for security reasons.

Among them was an eyewitness who saw Delos Santos under custody of the respondents before he was shot dead.

The minor witness who has been in the custody of the Caloocan diocese also appeared at the hearing.

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The PAO also submitted to the DOJ panel the closed circuit television footage in the area operated by the barangay and results of the forensic examination conducted by the PAO indicating that Kian was lying face down when shot three times, twice in his head and once at the back.

“We are confident that we filed an airtight case based on the statements of our witnesses and forensic evidence,” Acosta told reporters after the hearing. Representatives of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) that also filed a separate complaint against the four policemen also appeared in the hearing. They were ordered to present their witnesses in the next hearing. 

The DOJ panel consolidated the complaints filed by the parents of Kian and the NBI and ordered the respondents, accompanied by lawyer Oliver Yuan, to answer the charges and file their counter-affidavits in the next hearing set on Sept. 25.

The panel composed of Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Tofel Austria, Assistant State Prosecutor Amanda Garcia and Associate Prosecution Attorney Moises Acayan stressed that the respondents would not be given any extension and failure to submit their answers in the next hearing would lead to immediate submission of the case for resolution.

Acosta asked the prosecutors to summon records of the PNP to identify the other policemen who joined the Oplan One-Time Big-Time anti-illegal drug operation last August and who would also be named respondents in the complaint.

“We want to include them as respondents in the case and it will be up to the panel to decide,” she explained.

After the submission of answers by respondents, the panel set hearings on Oct. 2 and 10 for filing of reply and rejoinder, respectively.  

Caloocan parishioners yesterday denounced the threat against Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of being slapped with charges of obstruction of justice for extending protective custody to the witnesses in the Delos Santos killing.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II earlier said that there was a possibility that David could face criminal charges for protecting the principal witness in the Delos Santos killing.

Residents said they will stand behind their prelate and abide by the Church’s leadership call for prayers to end the killings.

David earlier reiterated that he has done nothing wrong and only heeded the request of the witnesses and their family to assure their protection.

The bishop said he has not broken the law and is ready to present the witnesses when they are summoned.

– With Rey Galupo, Evelyn Macairan

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