Philippines Public Attorney’s Office said it would seek murder charges against three anti-narcotics policemen whose killing of a high school student last week has triggered rare public outrage about the country’s crackdown on drugs.
The killing of 17-year-old Kian Delos Santos has sparked nationwide protests which many hope could signal a reassessment of the country’s fierce war on drugs that has left almost 8,000 Filipino drugs suspects dead.
Witnesses claim Delos Santos was unarmed and police officers handed him a gun, asked him to fire the weapon and run.
His last words, pleading with officers hours before he was found lying dead on August 16, were, ‘Please stop. Please stop. I have a test tomorrow,’ according to a witness.
An autopsy report showed he was shot twice in his head and once on the back.
Kian Loyd Delos Santos (pictured) became one of at least 80 people shot dead last week in an escalation of President Rodrigo Duterte’s ruthless war on drugs
Persida Acosta, the head of the Public Attorney’s Office, said the complaint against the three policemen would be forwarded to the justice department on Friday.
Delos Santos was found dead in an alley with a gun in his left hand.
Police said they killed him in self defence, but his family said he had no weapon, was right-handed and had no involvement in drugs.
Security cameras showed the officers aggressively escorting a man matching his description towards the area where he was killed.
The three policemen admit they were the people shown in the video, but that they were escorting another suspect.
PAO and police pathologists who did separate autopsies told a Senate hearing that Delos Santos was shot from above, from close range.
‘It was cold-blooded murder, he was shot while kneeling down,’ Acosta told news channel ANC.
‘We are here for truth and justice so we have to file this immediately.’
Since Duterte became president last July he has vowed not to stop until the last drug trafficker in the country has been eliminated
The complaint, if accepted, would follow at least two cases filed last year against police over President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs, which has outraged human rights groups and alarmed Western governments.
Most Filipinos however support the campaign, according to opinion polls, and domestic opposition has been muted.
Several police commanders relieved of their duty over the student’s killing told a Senate inquiry on Thursday that Delos Santos was not the target of their operation, and his links to drugs were known to them only the day after his death.
Officers said they learned of his suspected links to drugs from another drug suspect, a phone and talk circulating on social media.
Delos Santos was among more than 90 people killed last week in three nights of intensified raids dubbed ‘One Time, Big Time’, which had Duterte’s steadfast support.
The term refers to a coordinated police drive to stamp out crime in a particular district.
Since Duterte became president last July he has vowed not to stop until the last drug trafficker in the country has been eliminated.
He has called on police and even civilians to kill drug users.
Duterte said he would be ‘happy to slaughter’ three million drug addicts, and likened his campaign to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler’s efforts to exterminate Jews in Europe.
He later apologised for his Hitler reference, but said he was ’emphatic’ about wanting to kill drug users.
He warned the European Union not to ‘f*** with us’ after the European parliament passed a resolution expressing ‘grave concern over credible reports’ that Philippine police were engaged in extrajudicial killings, a claim officers strongly deny.
Despite the criticism, the hardman has remained a popular leader and polls have shown continued domestic support for his war on drugs.
But the death of Santos appears to be a turning point.
Three government bodies, the department of justice, the senate, and the Commission on Human Rights, launched investigations.