The Caloocan Regional Trial Court today convicted three cops for the murder of 17-year-old Kian Delos Santos during an anti-drug operation in 2017.
Those convicted were police officers Arnel Oares, Jeremias Pereda, and Jerwin Cruz, reported ABS-CBN News. All three were sentenced by Judge Rodolfo Azucena Jr. to reclusion perpetua [a form of life imprisonment].
They were also ordered to pay Delos Santos’ family PHP100,000 (US$1,907) as civil indemnity, the same amount for moral damages and exemplary damages, and PHP45,000 (US$858) as exemplary damages, reported Rappler.
However, the three men were found not guilty for planting firearms and drugs on Delos Santos.
The crime occurred in Caloocan’s Barangay (village) 160 in August 2017. The policemen accused Delos Santos of working as a drug courier, an accusation which the teenager’s family denied.
The cops said they killed Delos Santos in self-defense because he fought back during his arrest, but a CCTV footage from the crime scene showed them dragging a person believed to be Delos Santos across a basketball court and into a dark alley.
A witness testified that Delos Santos, a Grade 11 student, begged for his life. Delos Santos reportedly said before he was shot by the policemen: “Please stop, I still have an exam tomorrow.”
Delos Santos’ death triggered a public outcry in the country but then-Philippine National Police Chief Director General Ronald Dela Rosa defended the three cops. He said suspects arrested by policemen are not killed unless they pose as threats.
According to Human Rights’ Watch, President Rodrigo Duterte’s controversial drug war has killed more than 12,000 people since 2016. Despite this, the government has no plans of stopping. In his State of the Nation speech this year, Duterte said the war “will be as relentless, as chilling, if you will, as the day it began.”