PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has assured the public that policemen behind the killing of 17-year-old Kian Loyd de los Santos would go to jail if found guilty.
Duterte told reporters Monday night he would be “the last person to condemn” the police, as he is their commander in chief, but said the law enforcers behind Kian’s death should be sent to jail if there was, indeed, a “rubout.”
“I saw the tape or tapes on TV and I agree that there should be an investigation. Should the investigation point to liabilities by one, two, or all, there will be a prosecution and they have to go to jail if convicted,” Duterte said in Palace news conference.
“I would be the last person to condemn them without a valid investigation. But if there’s a ‘rubout,’ they have to answer for it, they have to go to jail,” he added.
Duterte said that right after watching the video, he called Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa to arrest those responsible for the death of the senior high school student.
Kian, who was in Grade 11 at a Catholic school, was killed following a drug raid in Caloocan on the evening of August 16. His family said he was only minding their school supplies store.
Kian was found face down in a dark corner of Barangay 160, and forensics experts have concluded he was shot in the back with a bullet that had a downward trajectory. He also had two gunshot wounds in the head.
Police claimed Kian fired at them, but several witnesses said the teenager was given a gun and told to run for his life.
Later, police claimed that while Kian was not on the list of drug suspects, intelligence information pointed to him as a drug “courier” for his father and uncle and a woman named Neneng Escopin.
They also presented their own witness who claimed to have transacted with Kian.
Kian’s father, Saldy, denied the allegations and said he was willing to undergo a drug test.
When asked if he would pardon the policemen in Kian’s slay, Duterte said: “No, beacuse I saw the evidence.”
The President reiterated that his order to the police was to “neutralize” criminals who resisted arrest.
“If there’s a confrontation between the police and the gangster, the duty of criminal is to surrender while the police’s is to take criminal into custody, and if there’s a resistance, to overcome resistance, otherwise, you cannot bring him to the police station. In other words, if [the criminal]resists, you have to neutralize him,” he said.
Duterte also assured the public that he would not influence the probe into Kian’s death just to defend the police.
“That would be obstruction of justice and you can get impeached,” the President said.
De la Rosa has ordered the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group to do an independent investigation into the death of Kian, and assured the public there would be no “whitewash” of the case.
The National Bureau of Investigation is conducting a parallel investigation.
Duterte also said he had no plans to visit Kian’s wake, unlike what other political figures did, such as Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo and former vice president Jejomar Binay.
“I will be putting so many pressures on my policemen. They will be pressured. I cannot do that because the organization of PNP is under me. I cannot condemn them without validation,” he said.
Northern Police District chief relieved
On Tuesday, de la Rosa, the PNP chief, relieved the head of the Northern Police District (NPD), Chief Supt. Roberto Fajardo, over the Caloocan killing, citing the principle of “command responsibility.”
De la Rosa said in a radio interview this was also to give way to an impartial investigation.
Fajardo will be placed in the holding unit of the PNP at Camp Crame in Quezon City.
On Monday, Fajardo, in a news briefing, called de los Santos a “tough drug addict” in their Caloocan neighborhood.
He drew flak on social media for saying: “Nu’ng namatay, naging santo na (He died and became a saint).”