Duterte: Kian's death 'bad,' but drug war to continue

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 23 2017 07:11 PM

President says he will not protect police who commit crimes

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday said the war on drugs would continue despite the controversial killing of a teenage boy in an anti-drug sweep last week, which has drawn mounting criticism and public outcry.

In a speech in Batangas, Duterte said his drug war would continue as it is his “sworn duty” to rid the country of the drug scourge.

“I’ll be impeached? Correct. I can be impeached. Gusto mo barilin mo ako, but I will not change my policy. There will be war against drugs,” Duterte said.

In the same breath, Duterte also said he would not justify what happened to Delos Santos.

“It was bad. Hindi naman performance of duty ‘yung ganoon,” he said.

He also clarified that he would not guarantee protection for abusive cops.

“I said I will protect those who are doing their duty. I never promised to protect those who are supposedly engaged in doing their duty but committing a crime in the process,” he said.

The death of 17-year-old Kian Delos Santos in the hands of police during a drug raid in Caloocan City last week prompted public outrage against the government’s war on drugs amid evidence suggesting that the 11th grader was murdered in cold blood.

Delos Santos was among dozens killed in overnight anti-drug sweeps in Bulacan, Manila, and northern Metro Manila last week, considered the deadliest since Duterte took office last year.

A closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage showed police dragging Delos Santos to the spot where he was later shot dead. Witnesses also said that before the boy was killed, police gave him a gun and told him to run for his life.

Two of three officers implicated in the killing have since admitted that it was them who were captured in the CCTV footage dragging Delos Santos, according to the Philippine National Police - Internal Affairs Service.

Autopsy findings of the Public Attorneys Office also suggested that the boy was shot three times while on the ground helpless. 

The Caloocan City 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 and at least two cabinet members, Education Secretary Leonor Briones and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, have said the student should not have been killed in the operation.

The Department of Justice, Commission on Human Rights, and National Police Commission have launched separate investigations into Delos Santos’ killing. 

The Senate is also expected to hold its own probe into the minor’s killing, along with the fresh spate of deaths under the drug war. 

Amid evidence against the police as well as the autopsy findings, Duterte has promised a fair and swift probe into the incident.

Delos Santos’ killing is the latest blow to the government’s war on drugs, widely criticized due to the scores killed in police operations.

Latest Philippine National Police 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 while 2,535 were not. A total of 8,200 homicide cases were under investigation "with motives to be determined," the PNP earlier said.