Case told: Contradicting narratives on Kian’s case
Rosette Adel (philstar.com) - September 4, 2017 - 9:25am

MANILA, Philippines — For the Delos Santos family, August 16 was just a normal day until 17-year-old Kian Loyd Delos Santos met his demise that evening.

11th grader Kian died in an alleged shootout with the police of Caloocan City who were conducting an anti-drug operation.

Police accounts

According to police accounts, Kian ran away and shot it out with officers from Police Community Precinct 7 along Block 7 Riverside in Barangay Baesa at around 8:45 in the evening on that Wednesday, just like thousands of other deaths in the drug war dismissed as “retaliation.”

“Personnel of PCP-7 Drug Enforcement Unit led by PO3 Arnel Oares and 10 others were conducting One Time (Oplan Galugad),” the Caloocan City Police District’s report on the alleged shooting encounter with Kian read.

“The above named suspect (Kian) noticed the presence of approaching officers, suddenly suspect drew his firearm and directly shot toward the lawmen but missed prompting PO3 Oares to returned fire hitting the suspect on his body that resulted in his instantaneous death,” it added.

The police said they recovered .45 caliber pistol, four spent shells, and two sachet plastics containing shabu during that operation. They added that they have conducted a background check on Kian’s father, Saldy delos Santos, whom they claimed was "involved in criminal activities in the past."

A CCTV footage of the barangay however showed that Kian was brought by civilian-wearing cops and was followed by the police to the alley where he was killed.

Police officers PO3 Arnel Oares, PO1 Jerwin Cruz and PO1 Jeremiah Pereda who conducted the anti-drug operation confirmed they were the ones seen in the video but denied Kian was the one being dragged.

“Kami po 'yung nasa CCTV pero hindi po si Kian 'yun (kinakaladkad namin). 'Yun po ang aming asset na ayaw niyang makilala siya doon sa lugar kaya i-cover daw namin siya," Cruz said.

Witnesses’ accounts

Two female witnesses immediately surfaced to recount the death of Kian and claimed the police accounts were not true.

 The first witness alleged that the police were the ones who gave the gun to Kian.

“Ang sabi po nila may baril, ang totoo po wala po talaga kasi bumili pa po siya sa tindahan noong time na ‘yun inangat-angat pa niya ‘yung mga damit niya, wala po talaga. Saka kung meron po dun palang po sa harap ng bahay namin nakita na po,” the first witness said in a televised interview.

“Awang-awa po ako sakanya. Iyong pinagsusuntok po siya tapos sinikmuraan po maririnig niyo po ‘yung ‘haaaa,’” she added.

“Sabi [ng pulis]: ‘hawakan mo to.’ Sabi pa ni Kian: ‘ano pong gagawin ko ditto?’ ‘Iputok mo tapos tumakbo ka,’ Iyon daw po yung pagkakasabi, tapos si Kian po umiiyak na po siya kasi sobrang sakit po ng ginawa sakanya,” the witness continued.

Both witnesses also claimed the victim was brutally arrested before he was killed.

“Piniringan po siya sa mata ng kamay tapos ngayon po sabi po niya bilis-bilisan daw nila maglakad. Awang-awa po ako sakanya,” the second witness detailed.

“Pinatakbo po siya. ‘Di pa po siya nakakalayo [tapos ayun na],” she added.

Other witnesses who may testify in the Senate committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs were placed in the protective custody of Sen. Risa Hontiveros. Two of them are minors aged 13 and 16.

While there are witnesses who claimed the police narratives were fabricated, an arrested drug personality identified as Renato Lubares alias “Nono” faced the media and alleged Kian “receives 10 grams daily of shabu daily.” His statement justified the need to conduct an anti-drug operation against the teenager.

"According sa isang arrested na drug pusher, si Kian ay courier ni alias 'Neneng' na kamag-anak din nila na araw-araw na nagsu-supply kay alias 'Nono,'" Caloocan Police Chief Senior Supt. Chito Bersaluna said in an interview with CNN.

“‘Yun lang daw yung rule, aabutan nila kapalit ‘yung ? 17,000 na bayad. In short, kung ikaw ang nagbibigay ng drugs at tumatanggap ng pera, eh di tulak ka na rin," he added.

More police claims

Northern Police District director Chief Superintendent Roberto Fajardo reportedly admitted that Kian, his father and uncle were not on the drug watch list but he said “intel information” alleged Kian is being used as a drug runner.

Philippine National Police Director General Ronald Dela Rosa who earlier apologized for Kian’s death cited the police reports and alleged Kian was also a drug courier.

"Si Kian ay ginagamit ng kanyang ama. Ang ama niya mismo ang user, mga uncle ang mga pusher diyan at ginagamit si Kian na courier. Kaya nag-surface ang pangalan niya sa area mismo," Dela Rosa said in a television interview.

"Pati ang intelligence community natin na nagko-conduct ng operation plan sa Caloocan mismo, ang mga kapitbahay doon takot mismo na magsalita ng against sa kanila dahil kilalang siga ang ama pati mga uncle niyan, siga sa lugar. ‘Yan ang nasasagap ng ating mga intel operatives diyan sa area," he added.

At the Senate hearing last August 24, Bersaluna and Fajardo said they only confirmed the drug links of Kian after he died. He said they conducted a background check and validated the information through social media.

“The identity of the suspect was not yet revealed. We also based some sa lumalabas na ano (information) doon sa social media na nagsasabi (na drug courier si Kian). “Yun lamang po ang basis naming after na noong operation,” Bersaluna said.

Family, neighbor’s description of Kian

Asked about the alleged drug ties of his family, Saldy subsequently cleared his son, brother, and kin’s names.

“Hindi po, kahit po ang buong pamilya ko wala po, kahit mga kamag-anak ko, wala kayong makikita,” Saldy said in a televised interview with ANC.

Randy Delos Santos, brother of Saldy, also said denied being involved in any illegal drug trade activity.

To prove their innocence, Kian’s father dared Dela Rosa to personally go to their place and conduct an investigation within their neighborhood. He also challenged the cops who conducted the anti-drug operation in his village to undergo drugtest with him.

Saldy also questioned the police’s findings that Kian was carrying a firearm during the operation. He said his son was left-handed yet when he saw the crime scene the gun was placed on his right hand.

As a father, Saldy also vouched for his son’s innocence saying even his neighbors can attest how good Kian is.

“Ang mga kabarangay ko po ang magpapatunay kung anong klaseng bata po iyan,” Kian’s father said.

 “Mabuti pong bata ang anak ko. Naghahanapbuhay po kami ng maayos. Hindi po siya pala-barkada, wala po,” he added.

In a recorded social media interview of actor Sebastian Castro, an unnamed neighbor of Kian also claimed Kian is a kind-hearted and a hardworking teenager.

“Mabait po talaga iyan. ‘Pag galing po iyan sa school hanggang diyan lang po iyan talaga siya nagtitinda po kasi yan ng school supply po e. Kasi po ang pasok po niyan alas dos po ng hapon hanggang alas siete ng gabi,” the female neighbor shared, adding that her child is Kian’s classmate.

“Tapos noong nangyari iyon, pag-uwi nila galing sa school kumain pa po ng lugaw iyan,tapos nagbihis kumain ng fishball, tapos pumunta po diyan sa may botika, tapos ayun na nangyari na ‘yung nakita sa CCTV na dinala ng pulis,” she added.

According to Saldy, his son who used to dream of becoming a cop someday, asked his overseas Filipino worker mother Lorenza, to buy him a bicycle that he can use when traveling to and from his school, Our of Lourdes College Valenzuela a day before he was slain. The parents of Kian still bought him bicycle during his funeral.

Several groups and government officials expressed sympathy and support to the Delos Santos family. Some concerned citizens and groups staged rally last August 21 to demand justice for Kian’s death as well as for the death of the victims of the administrations war on drugs.

Some officials and legal counsels also offered to lawyer for the Delos Santos family however, the victim’s kin chose to sought help from the Public Attorneys’ Office.

Forensic experts’ say on the case

On August 21, PAO chief Persida Rueda-Acosta visited the wake of Kian and revisited the crime scene with some experts from the Forensic Laboratory of PAO namely Erwin Erfe, Alexis Sulit and  Angelo Ramos. The forensic experts also conducted post-mortem analysis on the body of Kian.

Acosta said the experts found fatal gunshot wounds on Kian’s body which prompted them from filing murder raps against Oares, Cruz, and Pereda.

 “Ito ay gunshot wounds. So, nalulungkot po ako dahil  tatlo pong fatal wounds ang nakita at isa po ay treacherous wound,” Acosta said in a recorded ambush interview.

During his testimony at the Senate hearing last August 24, Erfe, head of the forensics department of PAO explained his agency’s preliminary findings and said they found three entry wounds on the body of Kian. He concluded that two entry wounds were shot by a single gunman while the third gunshot wound inside the victim’s left ear may be triggered by one or two gunman.

Jocelyn Cruz of the Northern Police District, on the other hand, contradicted the PAO’s findings saying in NPD’s separate autopsy on Kian, only two bullets entered the victim’s head, one behind the left ear and one through the ear itself.

Both of them agreed that the bullets entered Kian’s head had an “upward trajectory,”  indicating Kian was prone when shot by the assailant.

PNP Crime Laboratory also conducted a paraffin test on Kian last August 20 with results that revealed there are no traces of gunpowder on the victim’s hands. National Capital Region Police Offce Director Police Chief Superintendent Oscar Albayalde however said there may be some instances that paraffin test will be negative depending on factors such and type of firearms used.

Cases vs Caloocan police officers

 Due to the forensic of PAO, the parents of Kian filed charges of murder and violation of the Anti-torture Act of 2009 against Oares, Cruz and Pereda before the Department of Justice.

The National Bureau of Investigated which conducted its separate probe into Kian’s case also filed a case against the three police officers and their alleged informant involved in the anti-narcotics operation.

The NBI said photographs on the position of Kian taken at the crime scene and bullet marks on the concrete wall beside his body prove an “undisputable conclusion that Kian was shot while in somewhat kneeling or fetal position.”

The bureau furthered that their findings negate that Kian engaged in a shootout with a police because he did not sustain wounds on the frontal parts of his body. They also said it is improbable for Kian to conceal illegal drugs and gun as he was only wearing boxer shorts at the time.

Aside from the circumstances mentioned, the NBI also said the Lubares’s claims against Kian were not true.

"The alleged arrest of Nono was only staged to conceal the crime these police officers have committed," the NBI said.

On Monday,PNP-Internal Affairs Service has also found probable cause to file administrative cases against 16 policemen implicated in Kian’s slay.

Although laid to rest, Kian’s case remains to be controversial. Two days after his death, another teenager went missing and later on got shot dead by the police in Caloocan City after the teenager allegedly robbed a taxi driver.

The Senate committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs will resume its hearing into the spate of drug-related killings on Tuesday.

READ: What we know so far: Killing of Carl Arnaiz, 19

According to Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, Caloocan City is the top city with the highest number of drug-affected barangays.

The NCRPO said from  July 1, 2016 to Aug. 8, 2017, the Project Double Reloaded formerly called “Project Double Barrel” resulted in neutralization of 1,336 during police operations.

The anti-drug campaign’s latest number according to the government’s #RealNumbersPH update however indicated that as of Aug. 29, 2017, there were 3,811 drug personalities who died in the anti-drug operations. It added that 70,854 operations were conducted while 107,156 drug personalities were arrested. 

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