MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte has expressed his condolences to the family of Kian Delos Santos, a Grade 11 student who was killed in an anti-drug sweep in Caloocan City last week.
Duterte said this as he reiterated his decision not to go to the wake of the 17-year-old boy, who was allegedly killed in cold blood by Caloocan cops.
“Tinanong ako ng media if I will go to the wake. I have expressed my condolences. Kung tanggapin ng pamilya, good. Kung hindi nila tanggapin, fine with me,” Duterte said in a speech during a dinner he hosted for the Philippine Air Force (PAF) Dragon Boat Team.
The President explained that going to the wake might give the impression that he believes the allegations against the police even if the various investigations into the boy’s killing are not yet done.
“The thing is I will not go there,” he said.
“Because even if it is true - it is under investigation - kapag pumunta ako doon, the perception of the public is baka totoo talaga iyan.”
Several high-profile politicians, including Vice President Leni Robredo, have visited the minor’s wake.
Delos Santos was among the scores of individuals killed in anti-drug sweeps in Bulacan, Manila, and Camanava area last week, considered the deadliest since Duterte took office.
Public outrage is growing over the killing of Delos Santos after witnesses said he was killed by the police even though he was already pleading for his life.
A closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage also allegedly shows the cops manhandling Delos Santos moments before he was killed and found dead in the spot where he was supposedly brought. The witnesses said before Delos Santos was shot dead, the police gave the boy a gun and told him to run for his life.
The cops implicated in the killing have admitted that Delos Santos was the boy captured in the CCTV footage, a news report said.
The police officers - Police Officer 3 Arnel Oares and Police Officers 1 Jeremias Pereda and Jerwin Cruz - are under investigation.
The police have said that Delos Santos was a drug runner for his father and uncle, an allegation that the boy’s family denied. The police also presented a witness, Renato “Nono” Loveras, who allegedly did transactions with the boy.
Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald Dela Rosa, nonetheless, said Delos Santos should not have died in the operation even if he had links to the drug trade.
The Department of Justice and Commission on Human Rights have launched investigations into Delos Santos’ killing. The Senate is also expected to hold its own probe into the minor’s killing and the way the government’s war on drug is being carried out.
Amid the evidence against the police, as well as the autopsy findings of the Public Attorney’s Office which suggest that Delos Santos was shot while on the ground and helpless, Duterte has promised a fair and swift probe into the matter.
He also said that the police’s intelligence information against Delos Santos’ father and uncle could be wrong.
Delos Santos’ killing is the latest blow to the government’s war on drugs, widely criticized due to the deaths attributed to it.
Latest PNP data show that a total of 3,451 drug personalities were killed in anti-drug operations from July 1, 2016 to July 26, 2017.
The PNP has also determined that out of the 12,833 homicide cases from July 1, 2016 to June 16, 2017, 2,098 deaths were drug-related and 2,535 not drug-related. A total of 8,200 homicide cases were under investigation "with motives to be determined," the PNP said.