MANILA - Senator Risa Hontiveros believes the chief of the Public Attorney's Office (PAO) needs to clarify her statement saying the witnesses under the Senate's custody are no longer needed in the case of Kian delos Santos, a teenager killed in a police operation in Caloocan City.
Speaking to ANC, Hontiveros said Atty. Persida Rueda-Acosta should give these "traumatized, afraid, but very brave" witnesses a chance to say what they know in the killing of the 17-year-old student.
"That's quite a premature statement from the chief of the Public Attorney's Office. Hindi pa nga nadidinig ng Senate committee on public order 'yung mga testigo na nasa custody ng Senado, already the PAO chief is already talking like that," she said Sunday.
Because two of the witnesses are minors, Hontiveros said she is hoping that they can testify before senators in an executive session to ensure their safety.
The senator, meanwhile, denied that she is politicizing the case of Delos Santos, insisting this is all about justice for one of the many victims under the administration's war on drugs.
If the witnesses decide to transfer to the custody of another agency, Hontiveros said she will respect it. Right now, the parents of the witnesses have agreed to have the minors under the Senate's custody.
Acosta earlier told DZMM that the witnesses in Hontiveros's custody may not be required to testify as the case they are handling is already strong.
"Hindi ko alam sa kanya kung saan niya gagamitin ang witnesses] pero 'yung hawak ho ng piskalya ngayon, ng DOJ, at ng PAO ay matitibay na testigo ang mga ito," the PAO chief said.
Delos Santos, who was killed during an anti-drug operation, was already laid to rest on Saturday. Calls for justice and for the stop of killings resounded during his burial.
Police involved in the operation said the teenager figured in a gunfight resulting to his death. But a CCTV footage shows that he was dragged by 2 men before he was killed.
Autopsy results also show he was already down on the ground when he was shot at the back of his head. The teen also tested negative for gunpowder nitrates.