MANILA — Three witnesses to the murder of Kian Delos Santos, the 17-year-old student killed in the Caloocan City anti-drug operations last Aug. 16, are now under Senate custody, Senator Risa Hontiveros said Thursday.
Prior to the turn over to Senate custody, Hontiveros along with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) National Center for Legal Aid and Caloocan Bishop Ambo David took custody of the three witnesses — 31-year-old and two minors aged 16 and 13 years old — since Sunday (August 20).
“Chairman Lacson also extended the sanctuary of the Senate using his Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs,” Hontiveros told reporters in a press conference after the hearing into Kian’s slay.
Hontiveros said that her office has “full coordination” with Lacson as well as Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III.
She said her request for an executive session to listen to the testimonies’ of the minor witnesses did not push through because Lacson’s committee was waiting for an authorization letter from one of the witnesses’ mother who works as an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) in Oman.
“Minabuti ni Chairman Lacson na bago sila idinig sa executive session ay makuha ang authorization in writing mula sa Nanay (ng isa sa mga testigo),” she said.
She added her office has also kept in touch with the witnesses’ parents via text message.
The senator said that the siblings of one of the witnesses have also requested to accompany their family member in the Senate.
During the hearing, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II insisted that the witnesses should be placed under the government’s witness protection program (WPP) as they could easily be “brainwashed” under Hontiveros’ custody.
Hontiveros, however, reiterated that it was up to the witnesses and their families to decide who to secure them.
Also during the hearing, Kian’s parents, Saldy and Lorenzana Delos Santos, came face to face with the three police officers accused of killing their son namely; PO3 Arnel Oares, PO1 Jeremias Pereda and PO1 Jerwin Cruz.
The three cops refused to answer most of the senators’ questions including “Who killed Kian Delos Santos?” and instead invoked their right against self incrimination.
Mr. and Mrs. Delos Santos, meanwhile, took the opportunity to speak to the policemen telling them how painful it was to lose their son who dreamt of becoming a cop like them.