MANILA - Malacañang on Tuesday said critics were wrong in claiming that President Rodrigo Duterte has lost control of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in enforcing his fierce campaign against illegal drugs.
At a Palace briefing, Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella defended the President amid heavy criticism over the controversial killing of 17-year-old Kian Loyd Delos Santos at an anti-drug operation in Caloocan City on Aug. 16.
The incident has triggered public outrage, with several groups taking part in a "Justice for Kian" rally on Monday night.
"I think they misread the situation. The President is very concerned that these things will be properly handled and properly managed," Abella told Palace reporters when asked to comment.
Various groups on Monday marched to condemn the shooting of the 11th grader and the fresh spate of killings following overnight anti-drug operations last week.
Duterte said Monday night that policemen behind the slay should be jailed if found guilty of executing the boy.
Abella said the President seems not too keen to create an independent body to probe Delos Santos' death.
"I believe that the President will follow the way the things are unfolding at this stage," he said. "I think we should trust the process."
Police earlier said Delos Santos was killed after he shot at pursuing officers during an anti-drug operation, prompting them to fire back. They alleged that Delos Santos was both a drug runner and a user.
But surveillance footage that captured the Aug. 16 incident showed 2 officers dragging Delos Santos to the spot where the boy was killed.
A witness also alleged that the officers beat up the victim, gave him a gun by force, and told Delos Santos to run for his life.
The Philippine National Police has relieved the three police officers involved in the shooting, the Caloocan City police chief, and the Northern Police District chief pending investigation of the incident.