MANILA – The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) will continue to conduct its parallel probe despite the refusal of the family of Kian Loyd Delos Santos to cooperate with authorities, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said on Monday.
Kian, 17, who was killed during an anti-drug operation in Caloocan City last August 16, was laid to rest on Saturday.
Aguirre said the NBI forensic team went to the wake of Kian to conduct an autopsy.
“The NBI was not able to conduct its own autopsy because the parents refused to cooperate for reason we do not know,” Aguirre said.
It would have also been an opportunity to settle the difference in results of the two earlier autopsies done by the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Public Attorney’s Office (PAO), which also conducted separate investigations on Kian’s death.
Aguirre said NBI probers could still come up with a report based on other pieces of evidence, including testimonies of witnesses and the CCTV footage from the barangay.
Last Friday, Kian’s parents — Saldy and Lorenza Delos Santos — accompanied by PAO chief Persida Rueda-Acosta, filed criminal charges against four police officers before the Department of Justice (DOJ).
They filed a complaint for violations of the Revised Penal Code for murder, and Republic Act 9745 or the Anti-Torture Law, against Caloocan City Station 7 chief, Insp. Amor Cerillo, PO3 Arnel Oares; PO1 Jeremiah Pereda, PO1 Jerwin Cruz, and several “John Does.”
Cerillo and the three policemen were already relieved from their posts and placed under restrictive custody.
Aguirre noted that the filing of the charges against the cops would not affect the NBI probe.
Meanwhile, Acosta said she will ask the Justice Secretary to place the witnesses under the DOJ’s Witness Protection Program (WPP).
Acosta is hoping the three witnesses to Kian’s killing, who are now under the protective custody of the Senate, will soon be turned over to the PAO.
The PAO chief said they have five witnesses including those who have seen Kian being dragged, choked and punched.
The five witnesses are different from the three witnesses under the custody of Senator Risa Hontiveros.
“In criminal cases, hindi paramihan ng testigo. Basta credible ang witness mo, kahit lima lang yan, apat lang yan, pwede na po iyun. Basta credible (In criminal cases, it doesn’t matter how many witnesses you have. As long as your witnesses are credible, even if you have only five or four, that will do),” she said.
Acosta said they could dispense with the 13- and 16-year-old witnesses under Hontiveros’ custody because they already have witnesses with the same testimony.
But they are still working to get the third witness, the 31-year old who allegedly saw the police give Kian a gun and told him to run.
For his part, Aguirre reiterated his call for Hontiveros to turn over to the WPP the three witnesses under her custody.
“It is better that the witnesses be turned over to the WPP that is tasked and properly trained to give security, housing, economic and emotional protection to the witnesses and even members of their family, if necessary,” he explained.
Aguirre also expressed reservations about the credibility of the witnesses under Hontiveros’ custody.
“The credibility of the witnesses under Sen. Hontiveros, who is perceived as biased and partial, might have been affected or undermined because children witnesses are susceptible to the suggestion of the elders,” he pointed out.
Aguirre also downplayed Hontiveros’ call for him to inhibit from any investigation on Delos Santos’ case.
“I have no problem with that. But she should also inhibit from Senate investigations and other matters where her fairness and impartiality are under question,” Aguirre said. (PNA)