One has to at least give credit to President Rodrigo Duterte for admitting that the Caloocan City police had gone too far with the murder of 17-year-old Kian Lloyd delos Santos that occurred during their “One Time, Big Time” anti-drug roundup operation.
By saying that the Caloocan City police “were out of line” in relation to Kian’s death, President Duterte publicly acknowledged that in this instance, his administration’s war on illegal drugs had been exploited by overzealous, even unscrupulous police officers wishing to stamp out the drug menace by any means at their disposal — including murder.
While the President never stated that the war will be suspended, his acknowledgment of the grave abuse of the Caloocan City police still stood in sharp contrast to PNP chief Rolando “Bato” dela Rosa’s rah-rah statement that Kian’s killing won’t deter the police into lowering their relentless war against illegal drug syndicates.
Still, Dela Rosa’s admission that the Kian case have demoralized some in their ranks plus his acknowledgment that some police officers have resorted to planting evidence on their targets showed just how far and how low the police will go towards achieving their targets.
That the victim is a high school student and the son of a domestic helper working in Hong Kong is not lost on both officials along with the incriminating video showing what looked like Kian being dragged by police officers in civilian attire presumably to his death.
Setting aside the politicization of Kian’s murder, the President’s statement may have far-reaching consequences on the way the police will conduct its anti-drug operations especially if it involves minors as classified under the law — there is still that pending legislation to lower the age of accountability which would classify youths aged close to Kian as being fully aware of their actions when they were caught committing a crime.
Still, the President’s statement and Dela Rosa’s vow to hold into account police officers who violate procedures in going after drug suspects bear no significance to Kian’s parents nor to the families of drug suspects whose guilt has yet to be proven but were summarily executed anyway by masked gunmen suspected to be law enforcers.
Not even the President’s defense that his administration’s violent campaign against illegal drugs is being done to protect the Republic from the drug menace can justify the killings that Dela Rosa admitted would still continue even after Kian’s death.
Kian isn’t the first nor will he be the last, but in this instance, his death had a sobering effect on the President who vowed to go all out despite mounting criticism on his war on drugs. And may this incident also serve as a constant reminder to law enforcement agencies to observe due process and not assume a “kill mode” whenever they go after drug suspects.
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