MANILA – The Department of Justice on Thursday opened the preliminary investigation of the murder and torture of 17-year old student Kian Lloyd de los Santos, with lawyers for four cop-respondents clashing with the chief public attorney over the inclusion in criminal charges of policemen who just happened to be at the Caloocan police station when the schoolboy was murdered, but had no role in the anti-drug sweep on the night of Aug. 17.
Present at the hearing were the family of Kian, Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) chief Atty. Persida Acosta and some witnesses. These included neighbors of minor age who saw Kian being dragged away by police, belying the cops’ official version that Kian had a gun and fought them while being arrested in an anti-drugs sweep in a Caloocan community on the night of Aug. 17.
At least 17 witnesses submitted their statements to the DOJ.
The police officers who are suspects in the complaints filed by Kian’s family and the National Bureau of Investigation also attended the hearing.
The prosecution first resolved the consolidation of the complaints filed by NBI and the family.
PAO, meanwhile, also submitted the findings of the forensic examination done on Kian’s remains, which indicated Kian was tortured before he was shot repeatedly, while in a vulnerable position.
Besides the eyewitness’ accounts, CCTV at a basketball court in the neighborhood had shown an unarmed Kian being pinned between two police officers, who dragged him away to a site several meters away, unreached by any CCTV, from where neighbors heard shots. His body was found slumped in a former pigsty near the creek.
Atty. Acosta filed a motion to subpoena the records of the PNP-Internal Affairs Service, saying this would help the prosecution determine the identities of the 12 John Does who were also allegedly involved in the operation, besides the four police officers facing charges.
Police Officer2 Arnel Oares, PO1 Jerwin Cruz and PO1 Jeremias Pereda are facing charges along with their superior, Supt. Amor Cerillo..
At the hearing, Acosta and the lawyer of the respondents, Oliver Yuan, argued over the inclusion in the criminal cases of all policemen who were with the respondents. Yuan stressed that many of those who were earlier slapped with administrative cases at the PNP-IAS just happened to be co-workers of the accused officers in the precinct in question, and had no participation in the mission that led to Kian’s death.
Acosta countered that it is up to the prosecutors to decide whether to include the other policemen who claimed they just happened to be companions of the respondents in the police station.
The DOJ set the next hearing for Sept. 25, also tagging that date as the deadline for submission of counter-affidavits of the respndents.
The complainants must reply to such counter-affidavits on Oct. 2.
Submission of rejoinders is on Oct. 10.
According to the prosecution, the suspects will not be given any extension for submitting their counter-affidavits.