MANILA — Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Tuesday said the Office of the Ombudsman has no jurisdiction over the case of policemen involved in the death of Grade 11 student Kian Loyd Delos Santos.
Aguirre made the statement in response to student leaders who insisted that it should be the Ombudsman who should conduct the investigation being the “guardian against abuses of public officers, and it is the best forum to conduct preliminary investigation for this case given the impartiality and neutrality of this Constitutionally-mandated body.”
“Walang jurisdiction ang Ombudsman kaya’t hindi maaaring dinggin ang preliminary investigation ng Ombudsman ang kasong ito. Pwede lamang hawakan ng Ombudsman ay mga kaso laban sa public officials with a salary grade of 27 and above na nasa jurisdiction ng Sandiganbayan (The Ombudsman has no jurisdiction on this case. The Ombudsman can only handle cases against public officials with a salary grade of 27 and above which are under the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan),” Aguirre explained.
“In this case, the policemen who are named respondents have lower salary grades so the jurisdiction on these cases are with the regional trial courts, not with Sandiganbayan,” he added.
In a letter filed at the DOJ on Tuesday, running priest Father Robert Reyes and student leaders called out Aguirre for his pronouncements stating Kian’s case was “blown out of proportion” by the media and that no one is condemning drug-related killings but only deaths caused by police officers.
Signatories to the letter include Karla Yu, convenor of the Millenials Against Dictators; Amber Quiban, national secretary general of the University of the Philippines Bukluran System; Jeza Antonette Rodriguez, OIC national secretary general, Student Council Alliance of the Philippines; and Moira Macainag, Director for Social and Human Sciences of the PLM UNESCO Club.
“As having prejudged the Kian Delos Santos murder and torture case by showing support to police operations conducted under the campaign against illegal drugs, it is respectfully submitted that the Department of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre should inhibit from conducting the preliminary investigation for the aforementioned case and the venue thereof be transferred to the Ombudsman,” the letter stated.
Aguirre earlier dismissed such claims, saying the student leaders are unfamiliar with the procedures at the agency.