MANILA - Two of the three cops linked to the death of 17-year-old Kian Delos Santos have admitted that it was them dragging the Grade 11 student on the night of the controversial shooting on Aug. 16, as shown in a security footage, the police internal affairs unit said Wednesday.
Philippine National Police-Internal Affairs Service (PNP-IAS) Inspector General Alfegar Triambulo said the policemen voluntarily told investigators that they and the teenager were the ones in the video.
They also said they were the ones whose arms were around Delos Santos at the time, an admission that may cast doubt on police claims that the boy had resisted and fought back, prompting them to shoot in self-defense.
"'Yung dalawa na may hawak kay Kian at inaamin din na si Kian 'yung hawak nila ay voluntary na pumunta, hindi po pinatawag ng IAS at sinabi niya doon sa IAS investigator na sila nga 'yun, na sila ngang dalawa at si Kian nga 'yun," Triambulo said.
The three policemen tagged in Delos Santos' death are PO3 Arnel Oares, PO1 Jerwin Cruz, and PO1 Jeremias Pereda.
Triambulo begged off when asked which of the three had made the admissions.
The official said that while the cops admitted that they dragged Delos Santos, they did not admit to shooting the teenager.
"Kahapon, hindi sila magsabi, pero 'yung statement na nakuhang 'yan, nung 17 pa 'yan. 'Yung nag-iimbestiga, tiningnan 'yung video, and then pinapakita sa kanila, then later nagkita sila sa isang birthday party ata sa headquarters, then sinabing boluntaryo nung dalawa," he added.
Public outrage has been growing over Delos Santos' death, which has been decried as a summary execution under the administration's war on illegal drugs.
A CCTV footage showed that two cops in civilian clothes accosted Delos Santos towards the direction where he was killed. Witnesses also said they saw the officers blindfold and beat the teenager before the shooting. They added that Delos Santos was killed even while he was already pleading for his life.
Witnesses said they followed the cops and saw how they handed a gun to Delos Santos and instructed him to shoot then run. When he heeded these instructions, the teenager was shot dead.
According to results of the autopsy by the Public Attorneys Office (PAO) forensic laboratory, Delos Santos sustained a gunshot wound to his back, to the back of his left ear, and one inside his left ear.
The location of the gunshot wounds to his ears showed that Delos Santos was on the ground when he was shot, the office said.
Senators have sought an investigation into Delos Santos' death, and PNP Director General Ronald Dela Rosa vowed to probe it as well, even as he asserted that the high number of deaths in overnight anti-drug raids was "normal."
President Rodrigo Duterte has also said those liable would be answerable and put in jail if a rubout is proven.
ADMINISTRATIVE CHARGES BEING PREPARED, DISTRICT DIRECTOR AXED
Triambulo said his office is preparing administrative charges against the three policemen, who have been relieved from their posts.
"Sinasabi nga natin, ang trabaho ng pulis ay mang-aresto...Dahil may namatay, it appears na-- it appears lang ha-- na mayroong lapses kasi may namatay. 'Yan ay subject ngayon sa evidence," he said.
Aside from Oares, Cruz, and Pereda, 9 other cops involved in the Caloocan operation have been placed under restrictive custody to encourage more witnesses to come out, said Triambulo.
"Mas maganda kasi kung restricted para lumabas 'yung mga testigo, kung sino 'yung mga may alam at hindi sila matakot dahil na disarmahan na po 'yung mga involved na pulis sa operasyon," he said.
Northern Police District (NPD) Director Chief Supt. Roberto Fajardo has also been relieved pending investigation into Delos Santos' death, according to Dela Rosa.
Chief Supt. Amando Clifton Empiso, Deputy Director for Operations at the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO), was assigned to take Fajardo's place.
Dela Rosa said Fajardo was relieved due to command responsibility.
Fajardo earlier claimed that Delos Santos was involved in the illegal drug trade as a "runner" and was a "known drug personality" in Caloocan City.
NCRPO chief Director Oscar Albayalde said Fajardo was relieved to show that the PNP will be fair in its investigation, and that Fajardo's statements regarding Delos Santos' alleged drug links may now be immaterial to the investigation.
"Ang sinasabi natin dito ay ang gusto nating mapatunayan dito ay 'yung kung ano talaga ang nangyari sa insidenteng iyon—kung pinatay ba talaga itong taong ito na walang kalaban-laban," he said in an interview with Umagang Kay Ganda.
"As of this time, baka immaterial na 'yung sinasabi nila na kung siya man ay tulak, courier, o kahit na kriminal. Sabi nga po natin, even the criminals have their rights," he said.
Albayalde pointed out that Delos Santos' case was not the first of its kind and that murder charges have been filed against the policemen in two separate instances in Pasay City.
"Ito ang sinasabi ng ating Chief PNP, na hindi niya pinapalampas 'yung mga ganitong pangyayari, hindi po niya ito-tolerate kailanman 'yung pag-abuso ng ating kapulisan kaya ito ang iniingat-ingatan natin," he said.
"Baka dumating ang panahon na aabusuhin ng mga pulis ang kanilang kapangyarihan," he added.
He also does not believe that Duterte may have encouraged police officers to commit impunity because the President never said he would support erring cops.
"'Yung ating President, paulit-ulit niyang sinasabi 'yan na hindi niya susuportahan 'yung mga pulis na umaaabuso. Wala po siyang sinabi na if you go beyond the law ay susuportahan ka pa rin niya," he said.
"Ang sabi niya, suportado niya ang ating kapulisan 'pag ginagawa nila 'yung kanilang tungkulin at wala pa kasing lumalabas sa imbestigasyon na talagang kung ano ang nangyari sa kaso na 'yun— kung talagang nanlaban o hindi," he added. -- with Maan Macapagal, ABS-CBN News