Children under Church's custody per mother's request, says Sen. Hontiveros' chief counsel
MANILA - The father of witnesses in the killing of 17-year-old Kian Loyd Delos Santos who are under the care of Senator Risa Hontiveros on Thursday sought the help of the police and an anti-crime group to regain custody of his five children.
"Nagbakasakali po ako sa CIDG (Criminal Investigation and Detection Group)... humihingi po ako ng tulong sa inyo upang makuha ko ang mga anak ko," the father of the witnesses said in his letter to the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC).
The father said he was detained at the Caloocan City Jail for drug possession at the time Hontiveros took custody of his children aged 22, 21, 13, 9 and 6.
They have been under her care after one of the siblings testified that policemen murdered Delos Santos during an anti-drug operation last month, contrary to their claim that he fought back.
His wife is an overseas Filipino worker in Oman.
The father, who is out on bail after a month in detention, went to the Senate on Thursday for a dialogue with Hontiveros, but the senator was not around. He was also informed that his children are now under the care of Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David.
Ferdinand Topacio, VACC's legal counsel, warned that Hontiveros may have violated protocol when she took custody of his children and later on handed them over to the Church.
"Sabi nila the Senate never took custody of the children, they are in the custody of Senator Hontiveros. Ngayon naman nakalagay dun sa document itinurnover daw sa custody ni Bishop. Bakit hindi sa DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development)? We are wondering bakit pinagpasahan?" Topacio told reporters.
Hontiveros' chief counsel meanwhile said the his children were turned over to the church on their mother's request.
"'Yung mother, after the father was incarcerated, ay binigay 'yung custody kay Bishop David. Pangalawa, the guardian, pinili din si Bishop David," Jaye Dela Cruz, Hontiveros' chief legal counsel, told ABS-CBN News.
"So there is no reason na hindi ibigay sa isang bishop given na 'yung nanay at ang tumatayong guardian ay pinili si Bishop David," Dela Cruz added.
The father said he has no plan to file charges against any parties provided that he would soon be reunited with his children.
"Makuha ko lang 'yung mga anak ko, okay na po sa akin. Nami-miss ko na mga anak ko," he said in a chance interview.
Dela Cruz said Hontiveros does not intend to stand in the way of the reunion of the father and his children.
"I also wish na tanungin nila 'yung mga bata kung ano ang gusto. At sana ang opinion ng nanay ay naitanong," she said.
(Editor's note: ABS-CBN is not naming the father of the witness to the killing of Kian delos Santos to protect the minor's identity.)