MANILA - The government welcomes planned protests and investigations over the death of 17-year-old Kian Delos Santos during an anti-drug operation last week, Presidential Communication Secretary Martin Andanar said Monday.
"Lahat naman dito ay kasama na rin sa freedom of expression mga kababayan whether you're pro or anti government. Gusto mo mag-martsa, gusto mo mag-protesta, pinapayagan naman ni Pangulong Duterte. Kami naman ay nakikinig rin sa mga suhestyon ng mga kritiko," Andanar said.
Delos Santos, whom police accused of being a drug courier, was killed in an alleged shootout in Caloocan City last Wednesday.
Several witnesses claimed the Grade 11 student was mauled by policemen, given a gun and told to run for his life.
Andanar said the government supports the separate investigations of the Senate, police and the Department of Justice into Delos Santos' death.
"We are also sad, we also condole with the family of Kian. Gusto rin natin to get to the bottom of this. Problem kung merong police na nagkamali rito, ay dapat parusahan," he said.
He added that he sees no problem with the creation of an independent body that will look into the incident.
Over the weekend, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman urged President Rodrigo Duterte to create an independent fact-finding commission that will probe the escalating summary killings related to the administration’s war on drugs.
"The commission should be composed of retired justices of the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals of proven probity. Police authorities cannot be entrusted with the investigation because police officers and personnel are involved, while the leadership of the Department of Justice is a partisan ally of the President," the opposition lawmaker said.
"Moreover, the inquiry must not be left to politicians whose motives could be suspect despite their avowal of impartiality."
For Lagman, the commission should be authorized to:
- Conduct an investigation on the causes, motives and rewards for the extrajudicial killings;
- Find out the total number of victims of summary killings both by the police authorities and vigilante groups since the start of the anti-drug campaign in 2016;
- Determine the collusion between the police authorities and vigilantes;
- Inquire on how many of the victims belong to the poor, vulnerable and marginalized sectors;
- Establish how many of the killings are subject to current investigations by the police authorities and other government agencies;
- Recommend the prosecution of errant police officers and personnel and private parties; and
- Recommend viable policies and alternatives to solve the drug problem as poverty and health issues other than a mere police matter.
Lagman cited a number of precedents where fact-finding commissions were created to investigate events of transcendental importance like the Agrava Commission, Feliciano Commission and Melo Commission.
The Agrava Commission was created by the late President Marcos to investigate the assassination of Sen. Benigno Aguino on 21 August 1983 despite allegations that Marcos masterminded the killing.
Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo meanwhile created the Feliciano Commission to conduct an investigation the 2003 Oakwood mutiny that raised grievances against her administration.
In 2006, Arroyo also formed the Melo Commission to inquire on the alleged human rights violations and extrajudicial killings during her administration.