PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has expressed his condolences to the family of Kian de los Santos, a 17-year-old, who was killed during an anti-drug operation in Caloocan City last week.
In a speech during a dinner he hosted for the Philippine Air Force Dragon Boat Team, Duterte admitted that there could be “mistakes” when policemen carry out legitimate operations against drug personalities.
He reiterated, however, that errant policemen would have to “face consequences,” if there was really foul play in the anti-drug operations, particularly in the arrest of de los Santos that resulted in his death.
“We can commit mistakes. That’s why there are so many incidents. This thing about drugs, there’s a ruckus now on de los Santos,” Duterte said.
“I have expressed my condolences. Kung tanggapin ng pamilya, good. Kung hindi nila tanggapin, fine with me (If the family accepts it, good. If they don’t accept it, fine with me),” he added.
Duterte said reiterated his decision not to go to the wake of de los Santos, who was allegedly killed in cold blood by Caloocan policemen.
He said going to the wake may give the impression that he believed the allegations against the police even as investigation into the incident was ongoing.
“The thing is, I will not go there. Because even if it is true, it is under investigation… Because I go there, I put down the police,” the President said.
“But this time… Sometimes it can go wrong. But if I do not destroy the drug problem, I will compromise the next generation,” he added. “If I have done wrong, then fine. Someday, I’ll face the consequences. I’m ready to face the consequences but I need to address this and some other things in life.”
De los Santos was killed on Aug. 16 by policemen in a drug raid in Barangay 160, Caloocan City. His family insisted his innocence but police claimed that the slain teenager was a drug courier.
Meanwhile, Palace spokesman Ernesto Abella assured United States Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim that there would be a full and impartial investigation into de los Santos’ killing.
Abella made the assurance again after Kim took to Twitter to call for full accountability over the police drug operations in the country that have led to the deaths of alleged drug suspects, including de los Santos.
“My condolences go out to the family and friends of Kian. Hope that the investigations lead to full accountability,” Ambassador Kim said on a Twitter post.
Responding to Kim’s concern, Abella echoed the statement of the President on Monday that policemen who violated the law would face appropriate sanctions.
“US Ambassador Sung Kim tweeted his condolences and hopes that ‘the investigations lead to full accountability,'” Abella said.
“In a similar vein, President Duterte has issued instructions for a full and impartial investigation into the matter and hold those responsible accountable before the law,” he added.