MANILA – Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Monday denied allegations of various groups tagging him as ‘biased’ on the case of the policemen involved in the death of Grade 11 student Kian Loyd Delos Santos.
“I am not biased in the Kian Delos Santos case. It is farthest from the truth. Any act of murder perpetrated against any Filipino deserves condemnation and I will work to bring the ones responsible for such acts to get the full measure of our penal laws. The allegations of bias hurled against me by some apparently uninformed or ill-motivated persons in the case of Kian Delos Santos’ death is so untrue,” Aguirre said in a statement.
“I am on the side of the truth and of the rule of law. That is my only bias,” the Justice Secretary said.
Kian, 17, who was killed during an anti-drug operation in Caloocan City last August 16, was laid to rest on Saturday.
During a Senate investigation on the matter last week, Aguirre said Kian’s death is a tragedy.
“A death is a death. The violent taking of the life of our youth is deplorable it simply cannot be allowed to go unpunished and I give my solemn reassurances to everyone that the ones responsible for this dastardly act will be punished to the full extent of the law,” he said.
“As a father and a parent myself, I condemn the killing of Kian Delos Santos. I condemn the killing in the same way that I condemn the brutal killings, the rape and the dehumanization of infants and children, of grandmothers and grandfathers, of mothers and fathers, of sons and daughters by drug addicts. We cannot call ourselves truly Filipinos when we engage in selective condemnation of the war on drugs,” Aguirre added.
On Monday, student leaders Kathleen Benavidez from the University of the Philippines Law School and Millenials Against Dictators co-convenor Karla Yu described Aguirre’s pronouncements regarding Kian’s case as malicious.
“It should always be presumed innocent unless proven otherwise. His various statements about the case has shown that he’s already made up his mind about the case. He called Kian’s death overblown and the witnesses ‘brainwashed.’ All of these, apparently in efforts to continue the war on drugs, a known failure as a policy measure,” the student leaders said in a press conference Monday.
Aguirre shrugged off such claims, saying the students leaders are unfamiliar with the procedures at the agency.
“These so-called student leaders are misinformed or ignorant of our procedures at the DOJ. I will not even touch that case. I have not myself resolved even a single case in the DOJ since I assumed office. At the moment, the prosecutors at the National Prosecution Service will handle it. Even on appeal, I will not handle the case. The cases on appeal are assigned to my five USecs. They will not be brought to me for any action before filing in court, or their dismissal,” Aguirre told PNA when sought for a comment.
“We reiterate our support to the President’s war on drugs. As we have declared before, we will be relentless as the President is relentless. Also we offer the help and support of the DOJ, particularly of the Witness Protection Program, to them,” he added.
On 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 DOJ.
Violations of the Revised Penal Code for murder, and Republic Act 9745 or the Anti-Torture Law, were filed against Caloocan City Station 7 chief, Insp. Amor Cerillo, PO3 Arnel Oares; PO1 Jeremiah Pereda, PO1 Jerwin Cruz, and several “John Does.”
The four were already relieved from their posts and placed under restrictive custody. (PNA)