MANILA — Senator Risa Hontiveros on Monday said that it is too early to discredit child witnesses from testifying in the Senate probe meant to shed light on the murder of Kian Delos Santos, a 17-year-old student killed in an anti-drug operation in Caloocan City.
“It’s too early to say that we don’t need to hear the testimony of child witnesses. It’s possible that the minor witnesses can identify the policemen involved,” Hontiveros said in a TV interview.
Hontiveros admitted that two of three witnesses currently under Senate custody were “traumatized” by the killing of their childhood friend, but noted that they are still willing to testify.
“Despite their fear and trauma, they remain committed. They show courage beyond fear. They want to reveal what they saw and what happened to their childhood friend,” she added.
She also reiterated that the decision to testify before the Senate was theirs despite the insistence of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II that the witnesses should be placed under the government’s witness protection program (WPP).
“I keep saying this, this is the decision of the kids all along. They want to help,” the senator said.
On Friday, the mother of one of the minor witnesses allowed the Senate to take custody of her child.
This was revealed by Hontiveros following reports that the mother of this minor witness, who works as an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) in Oman, accused the senator of not seeking her permission to take her child under her custody.
It may be recalled that the witnesses were initially under Hontiveros’ custody until she turned them over to Senate custody Thursday night (August 24) after the Senate probe into Kian’s killing.