No pardon for cops in Kian murder, Palace assures

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 29) — Malacañang on Thursday allayed worries President Rodrigo Duterte may pardon the three police officers found guilty of murdering Kian delos Santos during an anti-drug operation.

Presidential Spokesperson Sal Panelo said Duterte will not tolerate erring cops involved in unlawful killings.

"Obviously if the conviction is murder, which is intentional, then I don't think the President will pardon," he said in a media briefing.

International group Human Rights Watch expressed fears that although the Caloocan Court issued a guilty verdict against Police Officer (PO) 3 Arnel Oares, PO1 Jeremias Pereda, and PO1 Jerwin Cruz for killing Kian in August 2017, Duterte might end up giving them pardon if they apply.

"At the same time that we are heartened by this, we are also wary because Duterte has promised to pardon police officers convicted in the "drug war" killings. There is reason to suspect that he will keep that promise," HRW Asia Director Brad Adams said in a statement.

Duterte, months after he launched his drug war, said soldiers and police will not be jailed for carrying out his order to go after drug suspects. In March 2017, he said he would grant absolute pardon to policemen who may be convicted of killing drug-linked Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa.

But Panelo clarified that Duterte will only protect police and military who do their duties in accordance with the law.

"You must remember that this is murder. There is intention to kill. The president will never tolerate that. What he said was if you do it in accordance with your job, in the performance of your duty, then I will help you, not when you violate the law," the spokesperson said.

The guilty verdict against the three cops marks the first conviction under President Rodrigo Duterte's unrelenting war against illegal drugs. His administration's drug war has left more than 4,900 killed in various police operations. Human rights groups peg the number to go way beyond 12,000.