MANILA - Northern Metro Manila's relieved top cop on Tuesday denied any cover-up on the controversial killing of two teenage boys by his men last month as he emphasized that deciding on their guilt is up to the courts.
Relieved Northern Police District (NPD) Director Supt. Roberto Fajardo told a Senate hearing Tuesday that police officers do not intend to kill innocent civilians, in line with orders of Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald Dela Rosa.
Fajardo faced the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs as the Caloocan City police, which is under NPD, is hounded by allegations of abuse following the slays of 17-year-old Kian Loyd Delos Santos and 19-year-old Carl Angelo Arnaiz in questionable police operations.
He was removed from his post pending investigation of the incidents that happened one after the other in August.
"Kami po yung ayaw na ayaw na magulo 'yung lugar, kami ayaw 'yung may patayan. Situation lang po 'yung 'pag may lumalaban. Ayaw po namin ng magulo kasi kami po 'yung nasa frontline, kami 'yung nasa harapan," he told the Senate.
Both Delos Santos and Arnaiz supposedly instigated firefights with the pursuing Caloocan police officers in operations on Aug. 16 and 17, respectively.
Police have said Delos Santos, a 12th grader, was a drug courier, while Arnaiz, a former University of the Philippines student, tried to rob a cab driver.
Amid suspicion of police abuse in the two incidents, Fajardo maintained that the organization is letting the investigation run its course.
"Kung cinover [up] namin, hindi sana pupunta dito 'yung mga pulis tapos pwede namin kunin 'yung CCTV doon kung gusto namin. Pinabayaan namin [ang imbestigasyon] kasi gusto naming lumabas ang totoo, transparent, at the same time, ayaw po talaga namin ng magulo. We are trying to maintain the peace in our area," he said.
When Sen. Bam Aquino pressed him on the killing of Delos Santos and Arnaiz by cops under his watch, Fajardo said: "The court will decide on that, your honor…based on the report po, they are lumaban (fought back)."
Fajardo held this stance even as Aquino pointed out that a forensic examination by Dr. Erwin Erfe of the Public Attorney's Office showed that Delos Santos was shot downwards while in a prone position.
"Maniniwala po ako kung andun siya. Opinyon na po 'yun eh. Again, the court will be the one to decide," he said.
"Court po ang magde-decide, kaya nga po pinabayaan natin 'yung investigation, hindi natin sinira 'yung ebidensya. Let the court decide," he added.
Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) Director Roel Obusan supported Fajardo, saying expert evidence from the autopsy report and the Scene of the Crime Operatives were "just but in support [of] the actual happening of the event."
"That’s why we needed testimonial evidence and other [pieces of] evidence to fully have all the market of evidence, putting into one fact [what] has happened in that incident," he said.
Obusan said he is yet to complete the report Dela Rosa had ordered him to write as he still lacks testimonial evidence from witnesses in Delos Santos' slay who are under Sen. Risa Hontiveros' custody.
"What is being based by Dr. Erfe is the trajectory of the firearm or the bullets upon entry and upon exit. But how it was executed nung time na ginagawa 'yun, kasi 'yung point of entry was but a matter of seconds. Pero 'yung actual na ginagawa niya that time also needed to be seen," he said.
Committee chair Sen. Panfilo Lacson, a former national police chief, also underscored presumption of innocence pending the court's ruling on cases against the policemen.
"We are not in the position to judge whether or not they are guilty. It is up to the court because that is the criminal justice system," he said.