THREE young witnesses are ready to face any court or legislative inquiry to prove that senior high school student Kian Loyd de los Santos was killed by Caloocan City police on Aug. 16, Sen. Risa Hontiveros said.
The unidentified witnesses, aged 13 and 16, have been under her custody since Saturday last week, clarifying that it was the wish of the de los Santos family for her to take care of them despite the request of the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) to put have them under its custody.
PAO head Persida Acosta said her office could not file the charges against the Caloocan police because it didn’t have the testimonies of the witnesses.
Meanwhile, lawyer Ferdinand Topacio, in a separate interview, said Hontiveros could be guilty of obstruction of justice if the neophyte senator would insist on taking custody despite the request of authorities.
“They are now ready with their signed affidavits which will be used to file cases. We will bring them today to the Child Protection Unit of the Philippine General Hospital and they will meet representatives from Public Attorney’s Office, the National Bureau of Investigation, and the Commission on Human Rights to get their additional testimonies,” Hontiveros told a press conference Wednesday afternoon, adding that the PGH has the appropriate environment in handling this kind of situation.
Hontiveros said the three witnesses were scheduled to appear in Thursday’sSenate hearing under the peace and order committee of Sen. Panfilo Lacson.
She said the witnesses were very afraid and suffering from deep trauma. She said the witnesses felt safe and secure “now with us”.
However, if government agencies, including the Department of Justice (DOJ) will place these children under the Witness Protection Program (WPP), they should seek their permission to leave her custody and only if they and their lawyer, a certain Minerva “June” Ambrosio, would give their consent.
Hontiveros was with Caloocan City Bishop Pablo David who expressed his support to the witnesses, saying he was convinced de los Santos was killed by the arresting policemen.
“I believe that Kian did not resist arrest and fought it out with the police. This finding is being corroborated by witnesses, the NBI, and the autopsy,” said David, adding that his diocese, the so-called Camanava area (Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas, and Valenzuela) has turned into a killing field ever since the anti-drug campaign of President Rodrigo Duterte started in 2016.
“From 40 percent-60 percent, it is now 20 percent—80 percent, meaning 80 percent are now killed by unidentified assailants,” the bishop said, adding that policemen themselves, in some instances, are wearing bonnets during operations just like during Martial Law in the 70s and 80s.