Witness in Kian slay, family remain in church custody

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(File photo) At the site of the encounter, 17-year-old Kian Loyd Delos Santos was found in fetal position with a gunshot wound to his head.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 10) — Church authorities in Caloocan will maintain custody of a witness in the killing of 17-year-old Kian Delos Santos.

Caloocan Bishop Pablo David said the witness and her three siblings – all minors – refused to go with authorities who tried to take them away from the San Roque Cathedral Saturday evening.

The witness' father Roy Concepcion went to the church, along with the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC), to seek custody of his children.

David said the witness and her siblings were placed under his care after the Senate hearing on Sept. 5. The witness was initially under the care of Senator Risa Hontiveros.

The bishop said they agreed to help as long as they get consent from the children's parents. Concepcion, who was in jail for a drug case at the time, failed to give permission. He was able to leave jail after the Public Attorney's Office (PAO) assisted him, and later, VACC became his lawyers.

When they came to the church, David said he did not offer any opposition.

"Sabihin niyo lang kung kailan [Just tell me when], I am ready to release them to you," he told Concepcion and the CIDG.

When the children were reunited with their father, they called their mother who is working overseas. It was after this phone call when the children decided they wanted to remain with the church.

David then prepared a document for Concepcion to sign, and turn over custody. It was at this point when Concepcion, after talking to his VACC lawyer, said he would like to remain under church custody and be with his children. 

"Yung mga bata ayaw nilang mawalay sa kanilang ama. Ayaw nilang bumalik yung ama nila sa  CIDG. Pag hinihiwalay siya sumasama yung mga bata. 'May karapatan kami na makausap namin siya  kasi tatay namin siya.'"

[Translation:The children did not want to be away from their father. They didn't want their father to remain with the CIDG. They held on to their father when there were attempts to separate them. They said, 'We have a right to talk to him because he is our father.']

He added, "Natakot ang mga bata yun ang nakita ko...parang natakot sila dun sa CIDG na pipilitin na  kunin ang tatay nila."

[Translation:It seemed to me the children were scared...it seemed they were scared of the CIDG who would forcibly take their father away.]

 

David then asked Concepcion to execute a statement expressing his wish to be released from the CIDG custody and to stay with his children. The CIDG agreed to the request.

The killing of Kian in a police operation has sparked public outrage and cast doubt on the government's war on drugs.

Kian, a Grade 11 student, was killed in an anti-drug operation in Caloocan City on Aug. 16. Police said he was a drug courier.

He was among the 82 casualties of a series of "one-time, big-time" anti-crime operations in Metro Manila and nearby province of Bulacan last month.