MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday reminded the police to follow rules of engagement in their operations, following an outcry over the police killing of a 17-year-old in a drug raid in Caloocan City.
"If you do the country a favor, I will support you… Just follow the rules of engagement, the requirements of the performance of duty, which you have learned in your PNP,” Duterte said in a speech during the National Heroes Day celebration at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City.
"Murder and homicide or whatever --- unlawful killing --- is not allowed."
Duterte appeared to have tempered his stance in the war on drugs following the death of Grade 11 student Kian Delos Santos in a raid in Caloocan City last August 16.
The police’s killing of Delos Santos has drawn public condemnation as evidence, including security footage and witness statements, suggest that the teen was executed.
A closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage showed that two cops in civilian clothes accosted Delos Santos towards the direction where he was supposedly killed.
Witnesses said they saw cops hand the teen a gun, and told the latter to run before firing shots.
Autopsy results also revealed that the boy sustained fatal gunshot wounds to the head while he was already on the ground kneeling and turning away from the police.
The family of the slain teen on Friday filed a complaint for murder against Caloocan City police station 7 chief Chief Inspector Amor Cerillo, and PO3 Arnel Oares, PO1 Jerwin Cruz, and PO1 Jeremias Pereda- officers tagged in the teen's slay.
Oares, Cruz, and Pereda were also charged with violation of the anti-torture law.
The fact that Delos Santos was a son of an overseas Filipino worker in Saudi Arabia is considered a smack in the government’s face, as Duterte considers OFWs an important source of support.
In several of his speeches, the President underscored the importance of shielding OFWs’ children from harm, including the ills brought by the illegal drug menace.
Prior to the Delos Santos case, Duterte had maintained his unwavering support for the police and said he will always believe the police’s accounts. The President has dismissed allegations of irregularities in the war on drugs as mere hearsay.
The President said his campaign against drugs will continue, even as he had earlier expressed doubts whether he will be able to solve the drug scourge within his term.
He also said the police are still allowed to kill as long as it is done out of self-defense.
“Whenever their life is in danger and they are in the actual performance of a duty, your duty requires you to overcome the resistance of the person you are arresting.'
“If there is violence, then you have to overcome that violence to bring him to the folds of the law, and you can put him under your custody.”