Police probe on Kian's death focusing on summary killing, not drug trade

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 21) — A police investigation will determine whether a minor was summarily killed during a drug operation last week.

Philippine National Police Spokesperson Chief Superintendent Dionardo Carlos on Monday said PNP Chief Ronald Dela Rosa has ordered the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) to "immediately" look into the death of 17-year-old Kian Loyd Delos Santos.

He said the investigation will focus on circumstances that led to the killing, not the allegations he and his family are involved in illegal drugs.

"Immediately po after the incident, Internal Affairs Service conducted their motu propio investigation. Yung Caloocan City Police nagsasagawa din ho sila ng kanilang imbestigasyon para matukoy ang lahat ng pangyayari. Ang Internal Affairs ay nagsasagawa sila ng kanilang imbestigasyon upang matukoy naman kung may pagkakamali yung mga pulis na involved. Ngayon, sa pag-uutos ni Chief PNP General Dela Rosa, yung CIDG ay nautusang magsagawa ng kanilang sariling imbestigasyon, sa lebel na po ito ng National Headquarters," Carlos told CNN Philippines.

Delos Santos was killed on August 16 during an operation in Caloocan City, after police said he fired his gun at them.

Carlos said the Caloocan police conducted Oplan Galugad or anti-crime operation to catch Delos Santos, an alleged drug courier. The local police said Delos Santos violently resisted arrest, prompting the authorities to retaliate.

Four Caloocan police officers were relieved and are under restrictive custody, while the city police chief, Senior Supt. Chito Bersaluna was administratively relieved as well.

"Ang posibleng kasong kanilang kaharapin ay administratibo, Nagsasagawa ang CIDG. Kapag ang naging resulta ay merong criminal liability yung mga pulis involved, then appropriate criminal charges will be filed against them," Carlos said.

[Translation: They may face administrative cases. CIDG is conducting investigations. If the result shows the police involved had criminal liability, appropriate criminal charges will be filed.]

Related: Senators call for investigation on killing of 17-year-old boy

Carlos encouraged eyewitness to speak up about what they know to solve the case.

"The witnesses coming out, magandang senyales yan na hindi natin tinotolerate ang mali," he said.

The CIDG and Internal Affairs Service of the Philippine National Police, Caloocan City police, and National Bureau of Investigation are conducting parrallel investigations on the incident. The Senate will also hold its own probe on Thursday.

For his part, the Metro Manila police chief also said they are looking into the possibility Delos Santos was killed by the police without due process.

"Kahit na si Kian is involved in drugs or he is a minor, hindi yun ang iniimbestigahan. Yung iniimbestigahan dito is if he was really summarily executed," Director Oscar Albayalde told CNN Philippines on Monday.

[Translation: Even if Kian is involved in drugs or if he is a minor, that is not being investigated. We are investigating if he was summarily executed.]

"Even if he's involved in illegal drugs or even if he's not a minor, kung talagang siya ay binaril na walang kalaban-laban, yun ang tinitignan natin dito — not him being a drug pusher," he added.

[Translation: Even if he's involved in illegal drugs or even if he's not a minor, if he was killed without mercy, we are looking into that, not him being a drug pusher.]

Albayalde said three Caloocan policemen are undergoing paraffin test and their firearms submitted for ballistics examination.

Meanwhile, Chief Public Attorney Persida Acosta on Monday said the Delos Santos family is ready to file murder charges against policemen involved in the death of Kian.

Security camera footage of the incident showed two men in civilian clothes dragging a young man believed to be Delos Santos.

Kian, a drug courier?

Police said Delos Santos was a drug courier of his father and uncle.

"The intelligence report of the Caloocan PNP indicates that it was the father and the uncle that was using the minor to be the courier, taga-hatid ng droga, so through the revelation ng nahuli ng Caloocan PNP, na-identify itong si Kian as drug courier, taga-abot ng droga kapag merong bumibili… based on the revelation of the alyas 'Nono,'" Carlos said.

Two small sachets of suspected shabu, one .45 caliber gun, and four spent cartridge cases were recovered at the scene.

The Caloocan police arrested a certain "Nono" a day after Kian was killed. "Nono." He claimed Delos Santos was a drug runner who delivered shabu to him every day for over three months.

Bersaluna, the Caloocan police chief, earlier said Kian was not in the city's list of drug suspects.

Carlos said prior to Oplan Galugad, the Caloocan police had information about the "activity" of Kian's father and uncle, but admitted they were still building up the case when the operation was carried out.

No stopping the drug war

Albayalde said the death of Delos Santos will not stop the police from carrying out President Rodrigo Duterte's order to end the illegal drug trade.

"'Yung incident na yan, that will not stop the PNP and probably the government. This is an isolated case and this will not stop us from conducting further police operations against illegal drugs," he said.

Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella also believes Kian's case was an isolated incident.

The bloody war on drugs has killed at least 29 minors - some as young as four years old and including two unborn infants — according to the Children's Rehabilitation Center (CRC), a group helping children and their families who are victims of violence. The government reports 3,451 suspects were killed in its anti-drug campaign from July 1 to July 26, 2017.

Carlos said the investigation will be impartial despite Duterte's reiterated support for the police officers who are fighting the war on drugs.

"Ang suporta ng Commander-In-Chief and the Chief Executive to the police are to those policemen who are doing their job right, hindi kasama ang gumagawa ng mali," he said.

[Translation: The support of the  Commander-In-Chief and the Chief Executive to the police are to those policemen who are doing their job right, not those who are committing wrongdoings.]