MANILA — Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Tuesday said the witness to the police operations that resulted to the death of 17-year old Kian Loyd Delos Santos last month is now under the government’s Witness Protection Program (WPP).
Aguirre said the female witness, identified as alias “Choleng,” has been placed under the provisional coverage of the WPP, upon request of the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO).
“The witness has been provisionally accepted in WPP pending assessment of her application for full coverage. She is now in a safe house,” he said.
The WPP is administered by the Department of Justice (DOJ).
WPP is a program established under Republic Act No. 6981 or “The Witness Protection, Security and Benefit Act,” which seeks to encourage a person who has witnessed or has knowledge of the commission of a crime to testify before a court or quasi-judicial body, or before an investigating authority, by protecting him/her from reprisals and from economic dislocation.
In her affidavit submitted to the DOJ, “Choleng” said Kian was already under the custody of the policemen before he was killed.
She said she saw the police officers fetch Kian from his house.
“I saw the policemen carrying Kian. One of them was holding Kian’s neck with his arms. They brought Kian to the lower basketball court of our barangay,” read the affidavit in Filipino.
Choleng said she even confronted the policemen after learning that Kian was shot dead.
The eyewitness account was supported by CCTV footage in the area operated by the barangay.
Last Aug. 29, Aguirre said Kian’s parents Saldy and Lorenza Delos Santos were immediately extended provisional coverage when they went to the DOJ to apply for the WPP.
“They voluntarily went to us at the DOJ to apply for admission to the WPP. And we immediately accommodated them,” he said in a statement.
Aguirre said the move proves there is no truth to allegations he has been biased against Kian.
“This just shows, that contrary to the unfounded allegations of bias hurled against me by some ill-motivated or ill-informed sectors, the parents of Kian de los Santos have full faith and confidence in me and the DOJ in the handling of their son’s case,” said the DOJ chief.
The DOJ panel of prosecutors has already summoned the policemen and set preliminary investigation hearings on Sept. 14 and 21.
The accused police officers will face the preliminary investigation before the panel of prosecutors headed by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Tofel Austria.
The other members of the prosecution panel are Assistant State Prosecutor Amanda Garcia and Associate Prosecution Attorney Moises Acayan.
Kian’s parents already filed murder and torture complaints against Chief Insp. Amor Cerillo, the head of the Caloocan city police community precinct 7, Police Officer 3 Arnel Oares, and PO1s Jeremias Tolete Pereda and Jerwin Roque Cruz.
Last Aug. 28, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) filed a criminal complaint before the DOJ for murder, violation of Domicile under Article 128 of the Revised Penal Code and Section 29 of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act or planting of evidence, against the same police officers.
Oares, Pereda and Cruz were directly involved in the supposed anti-drug operation that led to the killing of Delos Santos, a Grade 12 student.
Delos Santos was killed in what police said was an anti-drug operation after he allegedly fired at them while trying to flee, prompting them to retaliate.
But testimonies of witnesses and CCTV footage would prove that Delos Santos could not have run away as he was dragged by two policemen after he was arrested.
Aguirre said the NBI and PAO complaints would be consolidated for the purpose of preliminary investigation.