MANILA - Witnesses in the death of 17-year-old Kian Loyd Delos Santos will come forward when the Senate opens its investigation into the anti-drug operation that killed him, Senator Risa Hontiveros said Wednesday.
Hontiveros, who took custody of the witnesses last week, said the group is ready to testify at Thursday's Senate investigation despite receiving supposed threats to their own safety.
"Noong simula, natatakot sila sa mga bantang iyun... Habang dumadaan ang mga araw, pumapanatag naman ang loob nila," she told radio DZMM.
"Bagamat nandyan pa rin ang takot, siguro mas matindi ang kanilang pagnanais na malaman ng publiko ang katotohanan tungkol kay Kian at makuha ang hustisya para sa kanya."
Kian was killed after allegedly firing at policemen leading a drug sweep in a rundown area of Caloocan last Wednesday. The 17-year-old boy was shot in the back of the head and ears while on the floor, suggesting there was no gunfight, according to a forensics expert.
The victim's family rejected police allegations he was a drug courier.
President Rodrigo Duterte has resolutely defended police on the front lines of his 14-month-old war on drugs, but late on Monday he said 3 officers involved in the teenager's killing should be punished if found to have broken the law.
Duterte said he had seen the CCTV footage acquired by media which showed plain clothes police dragging a man matching the description of Delos Santos, to a location where he was later found dead.
Hontiveros said the President cannot wash his hands of Kian's death after supposedly encouraging the killing of drug suspects.
"Dahil sa kanyang mga salita noon, nag-set into motion itong mga libo-libong patayan hanggang pati si Kian dahil sa kanyang mga salita na dahil siya ang pinakamataas na opisyal natin ay nagmimistulang polisiya.'
"Hindi rin pwedeng maghugas kamay si Presidente. May pananagutan din sa nangyaring ito kay Kian," said Hontiveros, who chairs the Senate Committee on Women, Children and Gender Equality.
The national police and Duterte's spokespersons have said that alleged drug-related killings were not state-sanctioned and that policemen were acting within the law.
Thursday's legislative inquiry into the death of Delos Santos will be led by Senator Panfilo Lacson, chair of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Illegal Drugs.
The Department of Justice, National Police Commission and Commission on Human Rights have also launched separate probes into the killing of the boy who had dreamed of being a cop.