US ambassador joins outcry vs death of Grade 12 student
US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim on Tuesday joined the public outcry over the death of 17-year-old Kian delos Santos in a police drug operation, expressing his condolences and saying he hoped those responsible would be held accountable.
Kim is the first foreign envoy to speak out on the issue, which has sparked public outrage against abuses in President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.
“My condolences go out to the family and friends of Kian. Hope that the investigations lead to full accountability,” the US ambassador said in his Twitter account.
Duterte on Monday night dismissed police intelligence reports tagging Delos Santos as a drug runner, saying these still had to be verified.
“Intel is intel. If there is no probative value, you cannot use it in court or to the people,” Mr. Duterte told a press briefing.
Delos Santos was killed by Caloocan City police officers on Aug. 16. The police portrayed the Grade 12 student as a drug runner who was killed after he fired at the arresting officers.
Former Education Secretary Armin Luistro lamented that Filipinos had become so indifferent, which allowed a climate of violence and impunity to prevail.
“I mourn for our nation. This is not our nature as Filipinos,” said Luistro, president of De La Salle Philippines. “What has become of us?”
He was among the hundreds who gathered at the People Power Monument on Monday night to commemorate the assassination of former Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr. The group condemned the killing of Delos Santos.
The militant Makabayan bloc filed a resolution calling on the House of Representatives to investigate the Delos Santos killing.
“Complaints are mounting that an alarming number of extrajudicial killings and vigilante executions are taking place and not the official police line of ‘nanlaban kaya napatay,’” the resolution read, referring to the common reasoning that suspects are only killed for allegedly resisting arrest or fighting back.
Two days before a Senate inquiry, two members of the chamber’s minority bloc rallied colleagues to put an end to the rash of drug killings and hold people in power accountable for these deaths.
“The President’s hands are stained by the blood of Kian and the blood of the 12,000 murdered in the name of his bloody war on drugs. He inspired this culture of impunity and killing,” Sen. Risa Hontiveros said.
“He reveled in the deaths of drug addicts, while at the same time turning a blind eye on the big drug lords close to him and his family,” Hontiveros added.
Sen. Bam Aquino said if it were not for the CCTV footage, Delos Santos’ case would have been reduced to a mere statistic under the label of “legitimate police operations.” —WITH REPORTS FROM PHILIP C. TUBEZA, VINCE F. NONATO, JOCELYN R. UY AND JOVIC YEE
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