KIAN Loyd de los Santos wanted a bike.
Parents Saldy and Lorenza granted the wish on Friday, on the last night of the wake for the 17-year-old Grade 11 student who has become a symbol of police abuses in the government’s bloody war on drugs.
A few minutes before 3 p.m. on Saturday, family and friends, supported by religious groups and nongovernment organizations, and wearing white t-shirts bearing the words “Justice for Kian,” buried the slain teenager at La Loma Cemetery.
A half-kilometer long funeral procession stopped by Caloocan Police Community Precinct 7, where three policemen accused of killing Kian on August 16 – Police Officer (PO) 3 Arnel Oares, PO1 Jeremiah Pereda and PO1 Jerwin Cruz – were assigned.
Emotions ran high as Kian’s white casket was brought out of their house in Barangay 160 and placed on board a multicab van adorned with flowers for the funeral procession.
On the side of the van were tarpaulins saying “Run, Kian, Run,” in reference to eyewitness testimony claiming the police gave Kian a gun and then told him to run for his life.
At 7:30 a.m., a funeral Mass was held at Santa Quiteria Church, officiated by Caloocan City Bishop Pablo Virgilio David with five other priests, including the “running priest” Fr. Robert Reyes.
Chief Public Attorney Persida Rueda-Acosta joined the family in paying their final respects.
After Mass, Kian’s father Saldy spoke about his late son, whom he described as a good kid who wanted to finish his education, and always dreamt, ironically, of becoming a policeman.
He urged the policemen tagged in his son’s death to go to Mass and examine their consciences.
“We want him to rest. We hope justice will be served,” Saldy said.
Saldy was accompanied by his wife Lorenza, an overseas worker in Saudi Arabia, who had to beg her employer to let her go home to mourn and bury her son.
The day before he was killed, Kian sent a message to his mother, asking for a mountain bike. Kian promised to pass his exam in school if his wish was granted.
“[August] 16 namatay siya, di ba? 15 magka-chat sila ng mama niya, ang sabi niya, ‘Bili mo ko, ma, ng bike.’ Kasi ‘yung mga kaklase niya may electric bike. Ang anak ko ang hinihingi bike lang kasi alam naman niya ang hirap ng mama niya (He was killed on August 16, right? On August 15 he was messaging his mother. He said, ‘Buy me a bike, ma.’ Because his classmates had electric bikes. My son wanted an ordinary bike because he knew his mother was making a lot of sacrifices),” Saldy said.
Kian’s aunt Lucy de los Santos told The Manila Times: “My nephew is innocent of the accusations. He knew nothing about drugs.”
Kian, who was in a Catholic senior high school on the government’s voucher program, was killed following a drug raid in Caloocan City on the evening of August 16. His father said Kian was only closing the family-run store for the night.
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.
Later, police claimed that while Kian was not on the list of drug suspects, intelligence information —later revealed to have come from social media—pointed to the teen 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. Saldy denies the allegations and said he was willing to undergo a drug test.
Kian’s cousin Mikha, who flew from Italy to attend the wake and burial, painted an entirely different picture of the slain teenager from the one made by Caloocan police.
“Makulit pero masipag mag-aral (He’s playful but diligent in his studies),” she said.
Saldy said the bike would be put on display in their house, in memory of his son.
“Masakit, iiwanan ako ng anak ko (It’s painful that my son is leaving me),” he said. “Nasanay kasi ako na kasama siya e, every day, sa pagtitinda. Katabi ko sa pagtulog (I was used to being with him every day, in the store. We slept together).”
with JAIME R. PILAPIL