IN October 2015, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) declared Caloocan City to be one of the seven cities in the National Capital Region with 100 percent drug affectation rate. That means that all its barangay have at least one drug user. Out of 188 Caloocan barangays, 90 were classified as “seriously affected by the use of illegal drugs”; 68 “slightly affected;” and 30 “moderately affected” (GMA News Online, October 22, 2015).
In May 2013, the United Movement Against Drugs and Akap-Bata requested PDEA to investigate Oscar Malapitan and Antonio Malapitan, candidates for mayor and vice mayor, respectively, for their links to the illegal drug trade. “According to a PDEA intelligence report, trafficking of shabu and other narcotics is being tolerated and is rampant in Bagong Barrio, Caloocan City, a known Malapitan bailiwick. The barangay captain in the area is Sharon Faye M. Bautista, the daughter of Rep. Malapitan” (Manila Times, May 1, 2013). PDEA refused to investigate. PDEA spokesman Derrick Carriedo reasoned that narco-politics isn’t defined in the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act (Rappler, May 2, 2013).
Bayan Muna’s local chapter in Caloocan shared their fears. As early as 2012, they called on the Philippine National Police to guard well the 2013 national elections in order to prevent the ascent to government positions of narco-politicians (Pilipino Star Ngayon, November 26, 2012).
Malapitan is now the mayor of Caloocan. He shouldered the funeral expenses of Kian delos Santos, the 17 year old who was killed by police officers in an anti-illegal drug operation.
The police version of events
PO3 Arnel Oares said that as they were positioning themselves in the vicinity, “several male persons” scurried away upon sensing the impending raid. Oares claimed that someone fired at them. Oares chased the gunman, fired back, and killed him. It was Kian (Rappler, August 20, 2017).
However, no one is being interviewed by the media to bolster their version of events. No CCTV footage that could support their version of events.
The CCTV version
A guy whose head is covered with a shirt was seen being dragged somewhere by two unidentified men. In an interview, Mayor Malapitan said, as far as he was concerned, that guy was Kian. Meanwhile, the police claimed that the guy on that footage wasn’t Kian but one of their assets.
Randy delos Santos, Kian’s uncle, claimed that bystanders told him that a known drug addict in their area “passed on something to [Kian], which was allegedly shabu.” Afraid of the cops, [Kian] ran away. He was then chased by the police (GMA News Online, August 17, 2017).
A 13-year-old girl claimed that she saw the police “slap and punch Kian after frisking him. They found nothing on him, that is why they were angry.” Afterwards, she said she heard the police tell Kian, “Take this gun, fire it and run.” She claimed she saw Kian run away and got shot (Manila Bulletin, August 19, 2017).
An anonymous guy claimed that he saw exactly how Kian was killed. He didn’t corroborate what the 13 year-old girl said. He didn’t say that he heard the police give a gun to Kian. What he saw: Kian was asking for help. Kian was sitting down, his head bowed, when the police fired several shots at him. He also claimed that he witnessed the exact scene in the CCTV footage being circulated. Then when shown by GMA 7 with a CCTV footage taken at the barangay hall around 30 minutes after the other footage, he identified the two police officers who were with Kian (GMA News Online, August 18, 2017).
However, both of the guys who were allegedly dragging Kian in the other CCTV footage wore shorts and flip flops. The other guy was wearing a hoodie. In the CCTV footage taken at the barangay hall, the guys seem to be wearing totally different clothes.
The political vultures
Never waste a good crisis seems to be taken to heart by the opposition. Sen. Risa Hontiveros visited the wake of Kian. Without any proper investigation, she declared Kian innocent, took custody of the witnesses, and gave protection to Kian’s family.
Hontiveros’ ally, Sen. Franklin Drilon, wanted the Department of Justice to relieve Caloocan City’s Assistant Prosecutor Darwin Cañete, who gave his opinion on the incident. He was at the crime scene and was posting his findings on his Facebook account. Since Cañete is pro-Duterte, Drilon believes that Cañete has “seriously prejudiced” the case (Inquirer, August 20, 2017). Cañete raised doubts about the innocence of Kian, but stressed that he was “not saying they did not kill the kid. The (police) should be held accountable if ever it’s a proven EJK (extrajudicial killing)” (Inquirer, August 20, 2017).
The allied groups of the Liberal Party of the Philippines are calling for a “revolution” in the name of Kian. Leni Robredo, the next in line to the presidency in case that revolution succeeds, also visited Kian’s wake.
“Among the calamities of war,” Samuel Johnson once said, “may be justly numbered the diminution of the love of truth, by the falsehoods which interest dictates and credulity encourages.” In this war on narco-politics, who has interests in propagating falsehoods? The government is the usual suspect. But as the film “Usual Suspects” instructs us: “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he did not exist.”