MANILA – The death of 17-year-old Kian Delos Santos should prompt reforms in government, including law enforcement, Malacañang said Friday.
“Kian's case is a wake-up call for the need to reform government institutions, even law enforcement agencies - a challenge that the President voiced from the beginning of his campaign for the presidency,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a statement.
While the incident "would not deter" the administration's fierce campaign against crime and drugs, Abella said the President "would not tolerate any illegal act or wrongdoing committed by erring policemen."
"The President has clearly stated that the war against drugs is not a license to break the law. He has already directed a fair and impartial investigation on the death of Kian de los Santos," Abella said.
He said those found liable will be made to answer for the boy's death.
Abella issued this statement after the Philippine National Police (PNP) drew criticism at a Senate hearing Thursday over an operation that led to the 11th grader's killing in an anti-drug sweep in Caloocan City last week.
Abella said Delos Santos’ death should serve as a reminder to the PNP “to follow the established PNP policies and operational procedures; that their personnel are properly guided in the conduct of police operations, particularly in the adherence to the rule of law and due process.”
The PNP drew the ire of some lawmakers and the public after Roberto Fajardo, the relieved Northern Police District chief, admitted in the hearing that the police established Delos Santos’ supposed drug links only after the fatal operation.
Among the PNP's sources of supposed evidence against Delos Santos were posts on social media, according to Senior Supt. Chito Bersaluna, the Caloocan City police chief also relieved after the incident.
Delos Santos’ killing has drawn public outrage as evidence, including security footage and witness statements, suggest that the boy was executed.
A CCTV footage showed that two cops in civilian clothes accosted the minor towards the direction where he was killed on Aug. 16.
Two officers have admitted that they were the ones seen dragging the boy in the footage, but one officer denied this at Thursday's Senate hearing.
Witnesses meanwhile said they saw the officers blindfold and beat up the teenager before the shooting. They added that Delos Santos was killed even while he was already pleading for his life.
Witnesses also 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.
Police have attempted to justify Delos Santos’ killing by claiming that he was a drug courier for his father and uncle, an allegation that the boy’s family denied. Human rights groups, however, said such alleged drug involvement was not a valid excuse for police to kill the boy.
According to results of the autopsy by the Public Attorneys Office (PAO) forensic laboratory, Delos Santos sustained a gunshot wound to his back, the back of his left ear, and inside the same 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.
This was later contradicted by the PNP Crime Laboratory, which said Delos Santos sustained two gunshot wounds to the head, through his left ear.
It confirmed the downward trajectory of the gunshots but stressed that the direction does not automatically mean that the teen was on the ground when he was shot, as claimed by a forensic scientist from PAO.
Despite mounting calls for the government to stop its war on drugs, Duterte has said his campaign would continue.
The President, however, warned cops that they would not get his support if they commit a crime in the performance of their duties.