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Drilon insists on probe of Kian’s death by Ombudsman

Sen. Franklin Drilon (File photo by Grig C. Montegrande / Philippine Daily Inquirer)

Disagreeing with Sen. Panfilo Lacson, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said on Sunday that the Office of the Ombudsman, not the Department of Justice (DOJ), should investigate the police killing of 17-year-old Kian Loyd delos Santos.
Lacson, chair of the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs that is looking into the killing of Delos Santos by Caloocan police in a drug raid on Aug. 16, said on Saturday that the DOJ should be allowed to investigate the case despite the objections of his colleagues.
‘Isolated case’
Drilon and Sen. Risa Hontiveros earlier urged Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II to stay away from the investigation after Aguirre called the killing of the teenager an “isolated case.”

Lacson said he understood the point of his colleagues, but stressed that it would be more reasonable to allow the DOJ to proceed with its own investigation.
“If Secretary Aguirre inhibits himself, the case may end up landing in his office when someone files a petition for review,” Lacson said in a radio interview.

He added, however, that he hoped Delos Santos’ case would not end up like that of slain Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. of Albuera, Leyte, which DOJ prosecutors downgraded from murder to homicide.
Both the National Bureau of Investigation and the Senate had found that police deliberately killed Espinosa during a warrant raid on his cell in a Leyte jail where he was held on drug charges on Nov. 5 last year.
President Duterte has promised protection for police who kill suspects in his take-no-prisoners war on drugs.
Aguirre is a defender of the campaign, which has seen thousands of suspects killed by police in drug raids and thousands of others slain in attacks by suspected vigilantes.
Give way to Ombudsman
Speaking in a radio interview on Sunday, Drilon said the DOJ should give way to the Ombudsman, which has the power to conduct a preliminary investigation like the department, determine probable cause and file charges.
“It is because of past incidents you cannot help but doubt the impartiality of the DOJ and the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) is part of the DOJ,” Drilon said.

He cited the Espinosa case, in which the downgrading of the charges by the DOJ enabled the policemen involved to go free on bail.
Police claimed Delos Santos was a drug courier and said they shot him because he fired at them with a .45 caliber pistol.
Police showed pictures of the dead boy with a pistol in his left hand, but the Delos Santos family said the Grade 12 student was right-handed.
Results of an autopsy conducted by a PAO medical examiner also showed that the boy was negative for powder burns.
But the results of an examination by the Philippine National Police Crime Laboratory differed from the PAO’s findings.
While the PAO examination found three gunshot wounds on the boy’s body, the police autopsy found only two.
The police findings, however, agreed with the PAO’s that the teenager was on his knees when he was shot.
Charges filed
The parents of Delos Santos have filed in the DOJ murder charges against four policemen over the killing of the boy, who was buried on Saturday amid calls for justice from thousands of people who also urged an end to extrajudicial killings in Mr. Duterte’ war on drugs.
On Sunday, Malacañang said the public should allow the law to take its course now that charges had been brought against the policemen who killed Delos Santos.
“Kian delos Santos has been laid to rest. A criminal complaint against the Caloocan policemen involved in the incident has already been filed,” presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a statement.
“Investigation is now in the process. Let us allow the law to take its due course,” he said.
Drilon said there was nothing wrong if the investigation was entrusted to an independent agency.
He said he was particularly concerned about the differing findings of the PAO and the police medical examiners.
“If you put doubt on the evidence because you have different autopsy reports, that might lead an acquittal. That is why we should be careful,” he said.
Wrangle over witnesses
Drilon also said he was puzzled about the DOJ and the PAO’s bids to get three witnesses, two of whom are minors, out of the protection of Hontiveros.
But Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III said there was no need for a wrangle over the witnesses.
“We all have the same goal, which is to find out the truth and achieve justice in Kian’s death,” Pimentel said.
Sen. JV Ejercito said politics should not be injected into the case of the teenager.
“The issue on Kian should go beyond politics. The issue is humanity. The best way to give justice to Kian is to make sure this horrific crime does not happen again to any minor,” Ejercito said in a statement.
“I am hoping that Kian’s death will not be used by certain politicians or groups to advance their own political interests,” he added.



How ex-Peza chief kept agency corruption-free

Lilia de Lima
You have to look at a corrupt and overstaffed government agency the way a butcher would look at a huge piece of raw meat.
The best cuts, a butcher would tell you, have some fat clinging to the meat, but never in excess.
So, hold a pen with the same precision of a butcher knife, and start cutting the excess fat — slashing off names on a long list of workers until a workforce of over a thousand people doing jobs meant for fewer employees is reduced to more than half.

Simmer the cut meat with the heat of angry sacked employees, then pepper it with death threats written in grim black ink, some from former friends, but mostly from politicians.
Then add a pinch of tough love, just enough to get the right mix. And voila, a corruption-free government agency.

Lilia de Lima, a Ramon Magsaysay awardee this year, had done this as head of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (Peza), an agency that banks on business confidence to bring in investments at a time when government and corruption felt like two sides of the same coin.
Even after many years on the job, De Lima could still not believe why she would even be considered for the Ramon Magsaysay Award, considered Asia’s Nobel Prize.
No prank call
“I thought it was a prankster,” she said, laughing in her office as she recalled receiving a phone call back in June that told her she won the award.
The caller was Carmencita Abella, president of the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation (RMAF).
“I considered ending the call. But the only thing was the voice sounded respectable. ‘Can you keep it a secret?’ she asked me.”

De Lima, 77, said she thought only “Mother Teresa-type” individuals won the award.
Two factors popped into her head in making sense of the award—the more than 6 million direct and indirect jobs she helped create through Peza, and how she maintained the agency corruption-free.
The RMAF thought so too. In its citation, the foundation described De Lima’s leadership as a force that turned a government agency “into a showcase of successful regulatory reform, a model institution of honest and committed public service, and a key contributor to the nation’s economic growth.”
Family of public servants
Born in Iriga City, Camarines Sur, De Lima was raised in a family of public servants.
Interestingly, the award that she would formally receive at the end of this month was named after an exemplary public servant as well, President Ramon Magsaysay, who died in a plane crash in 1957.
Only a handful of noteworthy people across Asia win the award every year.
“The awards that I treasure most are those I didn’t know anything about, like this one,” she said.
How did this start? In 1995, Peza was created, replacing the Export Processing Zone Authority (Epza).
Bloated workforce
As Peza’s first director general, she started by removing more than 500 of the agency’s 1,016 workers.
“It was so bloated because they were servicing only 331 companies, 16 economic zones,’’ she said. “That’s no way to go because I always thought that an idle mind is a devil’s workshop.”
“In the course of reducing the fat and streamlining the bureaucracy, everything was thrown at me including the kitchen sink,” she said.
Eventually, only 450 workers were left at Peza in her first year, a development which drew criticisms in the press and a meeting with then President Fidel Ramos, who appointed her in the position, asking her to “fix it.”
“I was at the point where they could print so many bad things coming from the guys I fired or from their political backers. It was hard. Some politicians wanted me to remove very good workers so I could hire their people,” she said.
But the Peza head, who is also aunt and godmother of detained Sen. Leila de Lima, stood her ground. Eventually, the figures spoke for themselves.
Investment hub
Peza’s job is to promote the Philippines as an investment hub for export-oriented companies, granting them fiscal and nonfiscal incentives, such as four to six years of income tax holidays and tax-and duty-free importation of equipment and parts.
In De Lima’s first year as director general, new investment pledges grew five times more than the previous year, and more than double the previous agency’s whole nine-year history.
“It was easy for me when I came in,” she said, describing how she halved the number of employees in her first year.
“I didn’t know them. They were just numbers. But when I started to know them, they were like my family. They were like my sisters, brothers, relatives and all,” she said.
“I allow them to commit mistakes because I also commit mistakes. But corruption is planned. One can’t say that they were wrong for accepting [money]. Once you are dishonest, you are fired. There was no second chance. If I gave them a second chance, I would have lost my credibility.”
343 economic zones
More than two decades since De Lima first took office, the numbers ballooned. From the initial 16 economic zones, there were 343 zones when she left in 2016. From 331 registered companies, their number rose to more than 3,700.
In the course of her career in Peza, investments reached P3 trillion, while economic zone exports totaled $629 billion.
During De Lima’s term, Peza remitted to the national treasury P16.6 billion in corporate income taxes and dividends, and paid off Epza’s debt of P4.6 billion.
How she was able to amass that huge amount of foreign and local investments would seem simple if you ask De Lima in a straightforward manner.
“So when I go abroad, I tell them you come to Peza because we are a one-stop shop. We are not just a one-stop stop, we are a nonstop shop. No other investment promotion agency here in the Philippines or abroad can say they are a non-stop shop because they observe office hours,” she explained.
A problem then as it is now, Philippine infrastructure and transportation were not exactly the main selling points in pitching the country to foreign investors.
Peza, she said, made up for this by improving its services to the company locators.
Nonstop shop
Under her leadership, Peza was a “nonstop shop”, especially in manufacturing zones, rendering service every day of the week, including Sundays and holidays.
Keeping this work ethic, she kept the top seat even after four Philippine Presidents had come and gone, a feat especially since she was a political appointee.
“My first visit,” she said, before correcting herself, “my first trip after I retired was Japan. I had a chance to go to Mt. Fuji. I didn’t even bring an office attire.”
But even without the official title, De Lima said she was still being consulted by foreign investors considering either setting up shop here or even expanding operations.
“Nothing much changed except I don’t have my staff. I feel more pressured,” she said.
Asked if there was a sense of relief in finally leaving government, she said, after a pause, there was none.
“I thought it was that but it was not true. The only thing is now I can walk my dogs regularly. Before, I can only walk them on weekends,” De Lima said.



De Lima: house-to-house drug test among urban poor inaccurate, violates due process

PhilStar file photo of Sen. Leila de Lima
MANILA – The house-to-house drug testing being implemented by the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Payatas, Quezon City as part of the government’s “massive drug clearing operation” is inaccurate and violates due process, Senator Leila de Lima has warned.

She pointed out that the “do-it-yourself drug testing kit,” used by the police who went around Payatas is inaccurate.

“The poor people are the ones being harassed from all these reckless actions led by our police authorities. This operation is obviously inaccurate and incriminatory because the drug tests were not conducted by accredited people and agency,” she said.

De Lima aired her concern after reading the Facebook account of a pritest detailing the house-to-house drug tests in Payatas – with police simultaneously conducting surveys of residents and asking them for urine samples to confirm whether they are using illegal substances, like shabu and marijuana.

In his Facebook account, the priest Fr. Danny also posted photos showing gates of the houses marked by the police and barangay leaders surveying houses of residents who may have already been tested for illegal drug use.

An article published on Vera Files confirmed the authenticity of Fr. Danny’s post, stating that the random house-to-house drug testing is being carried out by some policemen in coordination with barangay officials to clean up the drug menace for good.

A two-minute video presented by Vera Files shows a teenager being asked to take drug test in lieu of his father who was actually the person the police were looking for. In another house, a grandmother was compelled to submit urine sample but was tested negative for drugs.

Bgy. Kagawad Alejandro Adan, chairman of the barangay’s peace and order committee, confirmed that when found positive, a person’s name is placed on a watch list but was not sure what would happen to him next.

Under Republic Act 9165 or the Dangerous Drugs Act, De Lima said all drug tests must be done by “government forensic laboratories or by any of the drug testing laboratories accredited and monitored by the DOH to safeguard the quality of test results.”

While the police and the local leaders consider the drug testing approach as an alternative to killings of suspects, De Lima said it still violates the rights of the poor.

“Barangay Payatas houses thousands of disadvantaged families. By conducting this unauthorized drug testing, people continue to live in fear while the rich and the privileged who are behind the drug cartel enjoy their freedom without being questioned,” she said.

There has been outrage in recent days after the mass killings of drug suspects from poor neighborhoods in Bulacan, Manila and Caloocan. In four days of the anti-drug operations, 80 people were recorded dead, including 17-year-old student Kian delos Santos of Caloocan City.

Since Duterte, who promotes killings as crime prevention, started his all-out war on illegal drugs in July last year, more than 12,000 people have already been killed – both from legitimate police operations and vigilante-style executions.

As one of the most vocal critics of the administration, De Lima is detained on what she described as fabricated drug charges to silence her in her vocal opposition to the President’s war on drugs.


‘ALIS NA KAYO, MAY BARIL MGA ‘YAN’ | Cops drop in on Ateneo anti-EJK rally, asking for names

MANILA, Philippines — A small group of students and faculty of the Ateneo de Manila University were wrapping up a rally for victims of the war on drugs Thursday evening at Gate 2.5 facing Katipunan Avenue when two policemen dropped by asking for the names of the organizers and asking protesters what they were fighting for.

ADMU’s student publication The Guidon reported that the attendees “were advised to enter school premises, and dispersed safely” even as the policemen “attempted to speak to faculty attendees.”

USAD Ateneo de Manila, a student political party whose members attended the rally, called the incident an attempt to scare the protesters and prevent them from airing their sentiments.

A student who attended the mobilization as well as other protests inside and outside of campus called it their first experience of police acting this way. “And I think that’s why we were all so scared. They just stopped along the road and did not even bother to be friendly at first,” the student, who asked not to be named, told InterAksyon in a Facebook interview on Friday.

“I experienced firsthand kung paano mamalakad ang mga pulis kung may mga rally (how the police behave during rallies). I was at People Power Monument at least twice a week during the Marcos burial and I saw how the protesters and police co-existed there. There was no intimidation back then. They were just there to make sure the rally was peaceful. Back then, I wasn’t scared to ask them for directions to the bathroom, etcetera. Pero kagabi, iba ‘yun eh (But last night was different). Those two uniformed officers aimed to intimidate,” the student said.

Having come from class, the student arrived at Gate 2.5 at about 8:05 p.m. and found about 20 to 30 people there, with someone reading the names of victims and discussing the police’s account of how they were killed.

Protesters carried placards that read, “No to EJKs,” “End impunity,” and “Stop the killings” and chanted, “Tama na, itigil na (It’s too much, it must end),” “Busina para sa hustisya (Honk for justice),” and “Sino ang lalaban? Tayo ang lalaban (Who will fight? We will fight)!”

The protest ended around 8:40 p.m. with protesters leaving candles and placards in front of the gate. It was at this point that the police patrol car passed by, the student said.

“I thought it was just passing by but it started slowing down and came to a full stop. I got scared at that point so I stepped away from the crowd ’cause I was smack dab in the middle. I watched from the stairs [of the adjacent overpass] and two officers came out … They just stood there and only two or three people came forward and asked what they wanted. One woman went up to them,” the student recalled.

The student could not hear what was happening, but saw the protesters turn around to face the police. After five minutes, the policemen were still there, so the student decided to come closer.

“An older guy was leaving and I heard him say, ‘Alis na kayo, may baril mga ‘yan eh (You should go, they have guns).’ That stopped me cold on my tracks and I returned to the stairs. After a few more minutes there were murmurs and everyone was looking confused. I didn’t hear what was said but the people put out the candles and picked up the placards. Sabi ng babae na nagtanong sa pulis, nagtanong daw ang pulis kung ano daw ba pinaglalaban namin (The woman who talked to the police said the police was asking what we were fighting for). That shook me up ’cause I’ve been to rallies before but that was never asked of us,” the student said.

Asked if the school guards stepped in when the police arrived, the student said no, surmising they were probably caught unawares as well. “This was the first time this happened so no one really knew how to react.”

The security officer who regularly mans the overpass also did not step in, the student said.

“The police didn’t approach them and vice versa. Wala talagang lumalapit sa mga pulis (There was really no one approaching the police) except for that one lady and one guy, I think he was a student. He stood right in front of the police and started recording on his phone,” the student said.

The Guidon reported, “An Ateneo security guard was also asked if they were able to scan the policemen’s faces, however the guard reported that the policemen turned around.”

The Philippine National Police Handbook as of December 2013 contains the following guidelines for handling rallies:

“Public assemblies held in freedom parks or on private property do not need a permit for the activity. Public assembly with permit or one held in a freedom park or private property shall not be dispersed as long as it remains peaceful and no incidence of violence occurs…

The PNP shall not interfere with the holding of a public assembly. However, to ensure public safety and to maintain peace and order during the assembly, the police contingent under the command of a PCO preferably with the rank of Police Senior Inspector may be detailed and stationed in a place at least one hundred (100) meters away from the area of activity.

It shall be prohibited for a police officer to commit the following acts during peaceful assembly: obstructing, impeding, disrupting or otherwise denying the exercise of the right to peaceful assembly…

To ensure the protection, safety and welfare of the public and demonstrators as well, the following must be observed:

(1) Confined Assemblies in Private Property (Churches, Schools, etc.)

(a) Initiate the conduct of dialogue with the leaders/organizers.

(b) Secure and maintain order within the perimeter.”

“(The incident) cemented my fear and anger towards the PNP,” the student said. “I used to always trust authorities, but when I went to Ateneo, I started questioning the justice system of this country.”

Another rally was planned for Friday afternoon. “Students are angry and are anxious to fight back,” the student said, adding that before last night’s mobilization ended, the students and faculty members were talking about staging protest actions every Thursday, and lighting candles at exactly 8:24 p.m., the time 17-year-old Kian Delos Santos was killed in Caloocan City on August 16 according to CCTV footage.

“Not even [to] chant, but simply start a community and exchange stories, ideas, and voice out opinions. I thought that was really beautiful, and the 8:24 was a good symbolic commemoration,” the student said.

There was also talk of schools along Katipunan coming together to stage a single event.

“I hope my peers realize na ang demokrasyang madalas nating abusuhin ay pribilehiyo na pala sa mga panahong ito (the democracy we often abuse has already become a privilege these days). And I hope the people who fight with me on the streets do not lose that fire within them. Nakakapagod din kasi (It can be tiring), but we must forge on. Hindi puwedeng sumuko (We can’t give up), especially now that something like this has happened,” the student said.

“I would like them to know that we are not afraid. We will not be bullied into silence. Ateneo gave us Rizal and Jopson and so many more young heroes. We will not disappoint our heroes. They haven’t seen One Big Fight yet,” the student said.


Faeldon links Lacson, son to cement smuggling

STRIKING BACK Outgoing Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon disputes corruption charges of Sen. Panfilo Lacson, saying the senator’s son undervalued his cement imports. —NIÑO JESUS

TAYTAY, RIZAL—A day after Sen. Panfilo Lacson named him as among the corrupt officials in the Bureau of Customs (BOC), outgoing Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon fired back at Lacson, accusing the senator and his son of cement smuggling.
Faeldon, in a press conference near his home in Barangay Dolores in Taytay, Rizal province, said the senator’s son and namesake, Panfilo Lacson Jr., was the managing director of Bonjourno Trading, a company that the customs commissioner said was cited as the “No. 1 smuggler of cement in the country” by the Cement Manufacturers Association of the Philippines (CeMAP) Inc.
Lacson, however, said Faeldon should have filed charges against his son if he had a case against the latter.
“If my son is guilty or he is into smuggling, I will be the one and not (Faeldon) to file a case against him,” Lacson said in a news conference, which he called after the resigned BOC chief made the public accusations.
He said his son had denied any wrongdoing.

67 shipments

Faeldon said that during his one-year stint at the BOC, Bonjourno brought in 67 shipments of cement, 63 of which were valued at P4.6 billion.
He said one of his staff members, a brokerage exam topnotcher, discovered that Lacson Jr.’s company attempted to undervalue by 50 percent the freight cost of at least four shipments.
Faeldon said Lacson’s son declared a freight cost of $8 per metric ton when the prevailing market price was between $16 and $20.
“We discovered the smuggled shipment during our first 12 days in office at [the Bureau of] Customs,” he said.
‘Fake documents’

“In a span of a week, the company managed to bring in three shipments worth a total of P106 million. How is that possible for a company whose starting capital is only P20,000? These are only initial three ships,” Faeldon said.
“Can he afford this? Did he pay the right tariff? The right tax?” he asked, adding that Bonjourno also submitted fake documents to try to justify the amount that it was insisting to pay.
“Of course, this is smuggling,” he added.
But Faeldon said the four shipments were eventually released after the company paid the correct freight charges.
Lacson said there was no smuggling because cement was not subject to customs tariff and duties but was only covered by the value-added tax, which is collected by the Bureau of Internal Revenue.

63 other shipments
“What Faeldon is saying that (the tax for freight cost should be) $16 per ton. That’s too high. One friend who is exporting nickel to China, which is supposed to be more costly, the freight (cost) is $8-$9 per ton,” the senator said.
Faeldon said he was still looking into Bonjourno’s 63 other shipments to determine if the company had paid the correct freight charges.
The younger Lacson, he said, also went to his office several times and allegedly tried to bribe his staff.
“Ping Lacson mentioned players at the BOC. My question to him: ‘Are you a player (in smuggling)? Is your son a player? Is he your dummy?’” Faeldon said.
The senator said he was not a dummy for his son, noting that if his son had indeed made so much money, he would have finished the construction of his house, which began two years ago.
Lacson said he asked his son about Faeldon’s claim that he was delivering money to the commissioner’s office.
“He said he had not done so at any time, he had not met Faeldon. He had absolutely no reason to bribe Faeldon or the customs bureau. That’s a big big lie,’ he said,” Lacson said.
Faeldon said the senator seemed to know everything at the BOC. “Does he know this? Or are you the one behind this?” he said, referring to Lacson Jr.’s alleged smuggling activities.
Closing in
“How much tax are you paying? You brought in tons of cement. If those do not match, then you are a smuggler, Senator Lacson, unless you tell me you do not know Panfilo Lacson Jr.’s activities,” he said.
“If you deny knowing these, you know nothing about Customs. You are a liar,” Faeldon added.
Faeldon said Lacson’s accusations against him was meant to remove him and his appointed men from the BOC as they were closing in on Bonjourno’s illegal activities.
“They do not want the truth to come out. They want us all out, the six of us,” he said, referring to the former military officers that he had recommended to key posts in the BOC who were also named on Lacson’s list of alleged corrupt Customs officials.
Faeldon also accused Lacson of using the issue to launch another bid for the presidency.
The outgoing customs chief called on the Senate blue ribbon committee, which is investigating the entry to the country of a P6.4-billion “shabu”( crystal meth) shipment from China that passed through the BOC, to also investigate Lacson and his son.
Faeldon cited pieces of evidence, including bank certificates and a letter from CeMAP, which listed Bonjourno as among the four importers “still undervaluing their freight rates.”
“Let us investigate this because this is smuggling of cement by a high-ranking government official,” he said.



Signal No.1 up in 3 eastern Luzon areas as ‘Jolina’ enters PAR

A low pressure area off Catanduanes has developed into a tropical depression and was named “Jolina.”
Storm Signal No. 1 was raised over southern Cagayan, Isabela and northern Aurora, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said.

Possible storm Signal No. 1 could be raised over Quirino, Ifugao, Mt. Province, Kalinga and Northern Cagayan, it added.
Moderate to heavy rains are expected within the 300 kilometer diameter of Jolina.
The tropical depression is seen to grow stronger before it makes landfall over northern Luzon by Friday evening or early Saturday morning.

Jolina was last spotted 540 kilometers east of Casiguran, Aurora, with maximum sustained winds of 45 kilometers per hour near the center and gusts of up to 60 kph.
It moved west northwest at 17 kph.



Motorcycle-riding men gun down female driver in Las Piñas

A 32-year-old female driver of an SUV caught in a traffic jam in Las Piñas was shot dead by unidentified men on Wednesday afternoon.

Rachel Fajardo slumped on the driver’s seat of her grey Toyota Vios (ABR 6683) after she was killed by two assailants on motorcycle around 12:30 p.m.

In a report by Supt. Jenny Tecson, spokesperson of the Southern Police District, Fajardo was driving along Naga Road and stopped near a glass and aluminum shop in Barangay Pulang Uno due to heavy traffic in the area.
As caught in the closed-circuit television camera in the area, the perpetrators then stopped at her side and started shooting her. Fajardo died on the spot due to a gunshot to the head.
The suspects were seen escaping toward the Tramo Street.

Scene of the crime operatives recovered two fired cartridges of unknown firearm. The shoulder bag and personal belongings of the victim were intact, police said.
The body of Fajardo was brought to People’s Funeral Services.
Investigation is still ongoing.



Before Kian, there were Danica Mae, Oman, Rowena, etc.

Protesters display a banner as they march to join the wake for slain Kian Loyd Delos Santos, a 17-year-old Grade 11 student, who was killed in a shootout with police five days ago Monday, Aug. 21, 2017 in suburban Caloocan city north of Manila, Philippines. The killing of Kian has sparked protests and condemnation from the public. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

Before the killing of Kian delos Santos, 17, during a police operation in Caloocan City last week, youngsters in Pangasinan province had met violent deaths in President Rodrigo Duterte’s war that’s supposed to rescue them from the drug menace.
Those incidents that left victims as young as Danica Mae Garcia, 5, remain unsolved. She was felled by bullets meant for her grandfather, Maximo, at Barangay Mayombo in Dagupan City, exactly a year ago today. Along with her cousins, she was then preparing to attend her afternoon classes in a nearby public school.
The children were behind the curtain that separated the dining room that also served as a living room from their bathroom, where they were either brushing their teeth or taking a bath.

No CHR assistance
Maximo, seated on a wooden bed, managed to escape. He was on the police list of suspected drug pushers and was supposedly the target of the gunman.
Danica Mae was hit in the head and died in her grandmother’s arms, one of the youngest victims in the drug war.

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) offered financial aid, but nothing has come of it, according to Danica Mae’s grandmother, Gemma.
Based on police records, 1,269 of 1,364 villages in 43 towns and four cities in the province were drug-affected at the start of Mr. Duterte’s campaign last year.
As of June 15, 1,088 villages, five towns and a city had been declared drug-cleared soon.
The government’s antidrug campaign also resulted in the arrest of 1,577 drug users and pushers.
Thirty-three people were killed when they shot it out with the police. The deaths of 66 others were under investigation, including that of Danica Mae.
The unsolved cases include that of Roman Clifford Manaois, 20, and Rowena Tiamson, 22, who were classmates in a university until he transferred to another school. They both dreamed of building a house for their parents.

The two were killed on the night of July 19, 2016, when gunmen went on a rampage, attacking suspected drug users and pushers.
But Manaois and Tiamson were neither addicts nor drug traffickers, their parents, relatives and friends insist. They were at the wrong place at the wrong time, and perhaps, with the wrong company, when hit men killed them.
Manaois, nicknamed “Oman,” was fetching water when he was asked by John Mark Serrano de Vera, a neighbor, to accompany him to an eatery in Dagupan City to buy “kaleskes,” a kind of soup.
Manaois hopped on the back of the tricycle which De Vera owned. On their way to the eatery, they picked up one Zaldy Abalos.
At 2 a.m. the next day, De Vera’s father rushed to the Manaois’ house in Barangay Carael, crying out, “Go to barangay [Lucao] hall. Oman was shot,” said Dennis, father of Manaois.
“We thought Oman was only hit in the leg,” Dennis recalled, his eyes getting red. But when Dennis and his wife arrived at the barangay hall, they were told to proceed to a morgue where they found their son.
Abalos, the hit men’s apparent target, was also killed, but De Vera was able to run.
The parents of Manaois were at first angry with De Vera whom they blamed for his death until they learned that he, too, was hit, although not fatally.
After the hooded gunmen shot Abalos, they trained their guns on Manaois and De Vera. They started to run when a bullet struck the back of Manaois, piercing his heart. De Vera tried to help Manaois get up but the young man told him to run for his life.
“[Manaois] was a good son,” Dennis said. “He was a big help in the house. He cleaned the house, cooked food. He had no vices at all, let alone drugs.”
Graduation did not come for Rowena Tiamson, who was killed also on July 19, 2016. She would have finished her mass communication course at Colegio de Dagupan in October last year. A school choir member, she also sang at two restaurants in the city to earn money.
At 10 a.m., Tiamson headed for school, which was just a walking distance from her house on Arellano Street, according to her mother, Teresita, 57.
“But at 5 p.m., she was not back home yet so I texted her to ask where she was. She said she went with her friends, a girl from Barangay Mayombo and a boy from Manaoag. At 9:40 p.m., I was already worried and called her up. Her telephone rang three times, then there was silence. I could not contact her anymore,” Teresita said.
The next day, the Tiamson family learned of Rowena’s death from a TV newscast.
Teresita said, “The newscaster asked if anybody has a missing daughter who has a tattoo of a musical note on her wrist, as a body of a girl was found in Manaoag.”
The family went there and found Tiamson. Her head was wrapped with packaging tape. Her body bore bullet wounds. A cardboard was strung around her neck with the words: “Don’t emulate, she is a pusher.”
The families of Manaois and Tiamson have realized they would not be able to find justice for the murder of their children, at least, not under the present administration.
“We cannot fight them. Duterte backs the police and the killers, to whom would we turn to?” Teresita asked.

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