MANILA – Senate Minority Floor Leader Franklin Drilon on Tuesday said that the legislative inquiry into the death of Kian Loyd delos Santos, who died at the hands of arresting police officers in a drug operation, will go ahead even after Kian’s parents were granted an audience with President Rodrigo Duterte.
President Duterte gave assurance that due process will prevail in the quest for justice for Kian. Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella has also said the National Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice should be left to pursue their investigation unhampered.
Drilon said the recent meeting between Kian’s parents and the President has no bearing on the legislative inquiry, which was called to look into the killing, which is not private in nature but has taken on the legal dimension of the people of the Philippines against the Philippine National Police (PNP).
Drilon added that the probe in aid of legislation will be pushed through even if assuming the Delos Santos clan decides to desist privately, because there are witnesses that can drive legal action even without the participation of the family.
For its part, the Office of the Ombudsman indicated that it can exercise concurrent jurisdiction, alongside the Department of Justice, although in this instance it is deferring jurisdiction to the NBI under DOJ.
Drilon confirmed that Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales is conducting a fact-finding investigation on the same case: “The fact that all the respondents have salary grades below SG 27 affects the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan … If the Ombudsman can conduct preliminary investigations on impeachable officials, how much more of an ordinary policeman?”
On the matter of the position that can be taken by Kian’s family, Drilon said it’s a question of the investigation “being done properly. This is a criminal case. It’s the witnesses who are key. This is not a private issue. Theoretically, it can be prosecuted independent of what the parents feel, because this is a case involving the public.”
For his part, Senator Panfilo Lacson, chair of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, remarked that Kian’s parents were invited to see the President. “They obliged, so they were assured. That’s good enough, with no less than the President giving assurance that ‘justice will prevail’ and ‘justice will take its course.’ The President himself indicated that he was convinced inabduct muna tapos pinatay. Siya mismo may sabi noon ([Kian] was abducted then killed. He said so himself).”