PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte will not grant pardon to the three policemen convicted by a Caloocan court of the killing of teenage student Kian delos Santos in August last year, Malacañang said yesterday, as it hailed the conviction as a “triumph of justice.”
“The President will never tolerate policemen who intentionally kill, who had done it not in accordance with the performance of their duties. Obviously the conviction is murder which is intentional then I don’t think the President will pardon [them],” presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said.
Duterte had said in previous speeches that he would pardon cops who are charged for their involvement in drug operations. He later clarified that he would only protect those who were doing their lawful duty.
Delos Santos died in one of the bloodiest weeks in the government’s war on illegal drugs with the Caloocan City policemen claiming he was a drug runner who opened fire on them to evade arrest near Tullahan River in Barangay 160, Caloocan on August 16, 2017.
CCTV footage and accounts of witnesses, however, contradicted the policemen’s claims, sparking public outrage over the campaign against illegal drugs, which has already claimed nearly 5,000 lives since Duterte assumed office in June 2016.
The President met with Delos Santos’ family days after his death and ordered then Philippine National Police chief Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa to immediately put in jail the policemen involved. The meeting at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang Palace between the President and Delos Santos’ parents was also attended by then Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre, Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) chief Persida Rueda Acosta, and Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption founding chairman Dante Jimenez.
Panelo, in a separate statement, said the court’s decision was a “testament” to the Philippines’ “robust and working justice system, contrary to what this administration’s detractors are depicting.”
“The President has never encouraged impunity. He has been equally harsh to wrongdoers in the government as he is to criminals. Never has the President said that erring government workers, much less the police, should evade responsibility for wrongful acts,” Panelo said.
“Abuses committed by the police have no place in an institution like the PNP. As we have always stressed, the conduct of the government’s anti-illegal drug campaign is based on accountability. Therefore, we do not -- and we will never -- tolerate unjustified police violence, brutality or killing,” he added.
The Palace also lauded the trial court, which resolved the case in only six months, for the “swift administration of justice.”
Acosta said that the conviction is also a proof that justice will be served against law enforcers who commit extra-judicial killings (EJK).
“Yan po ay patunay na may rule of law, truth and justice sa ating bansa. Kung meron man pong nagaganap na EJK, hindi po ‘yan pinahihintulutan ng gobyerno, ‘yang EJK na ‘yan,” she said.
“Ang pamilya Delos Santos po ay nagpapasalamat sa hukom, kay Judge Azucena sa kanyang paggawad ng hatol na habambuhay na pagkakabilanggo,” she added.