THE life sentence handed down yesterday by Caloocan City Regional Trial Court Judge Rodolfo Azucena of Branch 125 on the three police officers who killed 17-year-old student Kian Loyd delos Santos during an anti-drugs operation in Caloocan City August of last year is a positive development in so many ways and will surely be talked about for a long time.
Sentenced to reclusion perpetua, or 20 to 40 years of imprisonment without parole after being found guilty of murder were PO3 Arnel Oares, PO1 Jeremias Pereda and PO1 Jerwin Cruz. They were found not guilty of planting evidence and were also ordered to pay the family of Delos Santos P100,000 in civil indemnity, P100,000 in moral damages, P45,000 in actual damages and P100,000 in exemplary damages, with interest on all damages.
Judge Azucena deserves commendation for a job well done, for dispensing justice swiftly and without any fear or favor. He made us, ordinary Filipinos believe that justice is still very much alive in this country and that it is not only for the poor and the influential.
And although the sentence will never bring back the life of Kian, I’m sure his family is somehow happy that justice is finally achieved for their loved one who was robbed of his life and youth under the hands of abusive authorities. The handing down of the decision is a wonderful Christmas gift to Kian’s family, who should be thankful, among others, to the Public Attorney’s Office headed by Atty. Persida Acosta who tirelessly assisted them in the case from start to finish.
Above all, Judge Azucena must be commended for handling the continuous trial well in the face of the dangerous fact that he might be courting threats to his life and safety and even that of his loved ones.
It will be recalled that in the heat of the so-called ‘war on drugs’, Kian’s death became controversial after several witnesses said they saw the said policemen hand Delos Santos a gun, dragged into a dark alley and then told to run before shooting him. An autopsy later on showed that he sustained fatal gunshot wounds to the head while he was already kneeling on the ground. Newspaper and television photos showed him dead in a kneeling position, his head toward the ground, sparking a public outcry.
Action was taken by higher-ups against the erring cops and President Duterte was prompted to transfer the campaign against drugs from the Philippine National Police to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency. The incident also triggered a much-publicized Senate inquiry.
While those against the government will surely be quick to again blame President Duterte for the said incident, it must be noted that the intention of the President was actually good and that he obviously did not condone what happened, since he did not lift a finger to help the cops involved and just let the wheels of justice grind on its own when he could have done otherwise.
The decision handed down against the policemen who killed Kian should serve as a warning to other policemen that they could not get away with murder, even if they are the law enforcement authorities.
Again, the campaign of the government against illegal drugs is well-intended. However, in every basket of eggs, there will always be rotten ones.
I hope that before those from the opposition begin using the issue to come out with pronouncements against Duterte, they focus their much-needed attention to the victims of ‘Dengvaxia vaccines’ that run to hundreds of thousands and the number of deaths among children that continue to rise.
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