Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has welcomed Caloocan Regional Trial Court’s (RTC) guilty verdict against three police officers involved in the killing of teenager Kian Loyd de los Santos whose death sparked public outrage more than two years ago.
De Lima, the staunchest critic of the Duterte administration’s all-out war on drugs policy, said the lower court’s ruling “provides another oasis for justice seekers in an otherwise wasteland of human wrongs.
She likewise urged for the immediate creation of an independent commission to investigate the role of police officers in the “drug war” killings.
“For the thousands of families of victims of EJKs and other crimes of impunity under the current Administration, this is a most welcome respite, and a much-needed boost for all human rights defenders to carry on the fight for truth and accountability,” she said in her recent Dispatch from Crame No. 428.
“The findings of the court in Kian’s case, the various reports on the killings, and the documentation of eyewitness accounts, all reasonably point to police complicity that should entail an independent in-depth investigation. That probe or inquiry should be completely independent from the PNP, PDEA, and the Office of the President,” she added.
Last Nov. 29, Caloocan RTC Branch 125 Judge Rodolfo Azucena Jr. convicted PO3 Arnel Oares, PO1 Jeremias Pereda, and PO1 Jerwin Cruz, and sentenced them to reclusion perpetua, or equivalent to 20 to 40 years in prison under the Revised Penal Code.
While they were ordered to pay De los Santos’ family PhP100,000 in civil indemnity, PhP100,000 in moral damages, PhP45,000 in actual damages, and PhP100,000 in exemplary damages, the three cops were found not guilty of planting evidence.
Due to their conviction, the three police officers will be committed to the national penitentiary in the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City.
It may be recalled that cops killed the young De los Santos for allegedly fighting out with the arresting officers during a drug raid in Caloocan City in Aug. 16, 2017.
The Senator from Bicol said the court’s verdict should serve as a reminder to other abusive police and the mastermind of the rampant killings in the country that the law and justice will one day catch up with them.
“Magsilbing paalala at babala sana ito sa mga abusadong pulis, mga vigilante at mga pasimuno at mastermind ng mga patayang nagaganap: Lagi at laging mananaig ang katotohanan at katarungan. Sa tamang panahon. Sa lahat ng pagkakataon,” she said.
A staunch critic of injustices happening in the country since Duterte assumed presidency, De Lima vowed to protect human rights of all, including women and children, even while in detention for trumped-up drug charges fabricated by the present administration.