THE ballistic examination conducted on the firearms used by three policemen in the killing of Grade 11 student Kian Loyd de los Santos during a Caloocan City drug raid showed that the slug recovered from the body of the victim belonged to Police Officer (PO) 3 Arnel Oares.
Oares, with Police Officers Jeremias Pereda and Jerwin Cruz, on Thursday attended the Senate investigation into last week’s killing of de los Santos, 17, amid allegations they summarily executed the senior high student who they claimed was a drug courier.
The Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, led by Sen. Panfilo Lacson, conducted the probe
in response to the request of Senators Paolo Benigno Aquino, Risa Hontiveros and Joel Villanueva to investigate the killing amid the spate of extrajudicial killings (EJKs) of suspected drug suspects.
The victim’s parents, Saldy and Lorenza, also attended the public hearing.
Chief Insp. Amor Cerillo, Caloocan Police Community Precinct 7 commander, said that “based on the ballistic examination, it was PO3 Oares who has the firearm, matched with the slug found in the body of Kian.”
Oares declined to answer Sen. Grace Poe when she asked if he was the one who shot de los Santos. “P’wede po sa susunod na lang po (May I answer in the next hearing),” he told the committee, saying he did not have a lawyer with him.
This prompted Lacson to say, “This kind of demeanor will affect our view of you.”
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The police claimed de los Santos was not the primary target of their operation, saying they were looking for a certain “alias Negro.”
But they enraged senators when they revealed that they were able to validate only through “social media” the alleged ties of de los Santos to drugs.
Relieved Caloocan police chief Chito Bersaluna claimed they recovered a cellphone that showed de los Santos’ supposed drug dealings.
De los Santos had two gunshot wounds in the head, according to forensic expert Erwin Erfe, hired by the Public Attorney’s Office, and Jocelyn Cruz, medical officer of the Philippine National Police (PNP)
Pereda and Cruz declined to identify who killed de los Santos, invoking their right against self-incrimination.
However, they claimed that the person in the CCTV (closed circuit television) footage that they were dragging away was not de los Santos but their “alpha” or “asset.”
“He did not want to blow his cover. We’re protecting him. He did not want anybody to learn that he was with policemen,” Cruz said when Poe asked him why they were dragging a person away as shown in the CCTV footage.
But village officials and some witnesses said it was de los Santos in the video.
Later on Thursday, Hontiveros turned over to the Senate three witnesses who had claimed de los Santos was killed by the police.
PNP Chief Ronald de la Rosa told lawmakers he had “no order” to intensify illegal drug operations.
“But the operating units were taking the cue. So, we just continue since Day 1 of the administration’s campaign against drugs,” he said.
De la Rosa also expressed support for Poe’s proposal to require policemen to wear body cameras during drug raids. “I would like to stress that we agree with body cam. It will be beneficial to our operations to justify our actions.”