MANILA - It took a tearful embrace for the father of a minor who witnessed the killing of a teen drug suspect to change his mind and decide that they both stay under Church custody, a bishop said Monday.
The man, who had been bailed out by authorities, went to a Caloocan City Church compound late Saturday to fetch his daughter. He was accompanied by police and representatives of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption, said Caloocan Bishop Pablo David.
Before the father arrived that day, David said he sent a sharply-worded letter insisting that his daughter be turned over to him. The bishop has under his custody 2 minors who claimed to have witness the killing of 17-year-old Kian Loyd delos Santos, whom police accused of being a drug courier.
"Noong pinakuha ko na yung mga bata, yun na nga bumaligtad yung ama dahil nagyakapan sila at tuwang tuwa nagkita-kita," David told DZMM.
(When I had the children fetched, that was when the father had a change of heart. They embraced each other and were very happy to see each other.)
David said a lawyer arrived and said that the father should at least leave with police, since they bailed him out and allegedly sought their help.
"Medyo magkakahatakan (There was a slight tug-of-war)," the bishop said, adding he appealed to authorities to let father and child talk privately.
"Nagdesisyon nga yung ama, umiiyak pa nga e. Ang sabi niya, salamat po sa tulong ninyo sabi niya sa CIDG at VACC pero gusto ko lang makasama ang mga anak ko," he said.
(The father eventually decided, and he was in tears. He told the CIDG and the VACC, thank you for your help but I just want to be with my children.)
David said the child was entrusted to him by the mother, who is working abroad.
In the letter, the father told David that his wife had permitted the release of their child from Church custody. However, when he talked to the father late Saturday, David said the man said he had not talked with his wife.
"Yung sulat, medyo matalim ang pangungusap kasi sabi niya wala kang karaapatan na ilagay mo sa kustodiya mo ang mga anak ko dahil hindi ka naman DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development)," David said.
(The wording of the letter was a bit sharp because he said I had no right to custody over his child because I am not the DSWD.)
"Feeling ko, hindi siya nagsulat ng sulat na yun," he said.
(I feel he did not write the letter.)
The Senate is investigating the case of Delos Santos, whose death sparked fresh concerns about President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs.
Duterte said policemen tagged in Delos Santos' death should be jailed if proven that they used excessive force.
The President also met with the teen's parents and assured them that he would not condone police abuse.