IN direct contradiction to police claims, 17-year-old Kian Loyd delos Santos was shot in the ear and in the back as his killer stood over him, according to explosive conclusions drawn from an autopsy conducted on Sunday by the Philippine Public Attorney’s Office (PAO).
PAO medicolegal officer Erwin Erfe said on Monday all evidence pointed towards “intentional killing.”
“There’s no evidence that would back up [the policemen’s story] that he fought back. He was lying face down, his shooter was standing above him,” Erfe said, as reported by Inquirer.net.
The gun used was a 9mm service firearm issued to members of the Philippine National Police.
Delos Santos was gunned down during an anti-drug raid on Wednesday in Caloocan City, and is the 30th minor to be killed in President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.
The policeman who killed the teenager maintains he shot at them when he saw them coming. According to Rappler, Police Officer Arnel Oares was “prompted to return fire” that killed the boy.
This account of events has been widely disputed, however, as CCTV footage aired on local media clearly shows two plainclothes police officers moving delos Santos before the incident.
According to The Sydney Morning Herald, delos Santos was dragged past a basketball court into a dead-end screaming, “Please can I go home. I have school tomorrow”.
Several witnesses have claimed the police beat the boy in custody, and then gave him a gun and forced him to run before shooting him.
Delos Santos was found dead, face down on a garbage heap.
The boy’s death quickly galvanised much of the Philippines against the bloody campaign that has seen 12,500 people killed since Duterte took office last June.
The crackdown has remained largely popular throughout the country, but delos Santos’ death and a dramatic escalation in killings last week has raised questions among some of Duterte’s staunchest supporters.
A number of Duterte’s powerful allies in the senate have broken ranks and signed a resolution condemning “the recent spate of abuses by police resulting in excessive and unnecessary deaths in the conduct of the campaign against drugs”.
The Senate majority bloc also agreed to set up a new inquiry into the killings, including that of delos Santos.
The Catholic Church spoke out against the killings in a Sunday mass, calling on police and vigilante gangs to “stop wasting human lives.”
“We knock on the consciences of those who kill even the helpless, especially those who cover their faces with bonnets, to stop wasting human lives,” Manila Cardinal Luis Tagle said in a statement.
“The illegal drug problem should not be reduced to a political or criminal issue. It is a humanitarian concern that affects all of us.”
Duterte’s initial response to the spike in killings that saw 91 people gunned down in seven days was to encourage more bloodshed and offer to promote those police officers responsible.
“Let’s kill another 32 every day. Maybe we can reduce what ails this country,” he said on Wednesday, following the death of 32 people in Bulacan.
The firebrand leader has since changed his tack, capitulating on Monday there could have been abuses in his government’s war on drugs, ordering police to take into custody those accused of killing delos Santos.
He said there are some rogue elements in the police that were destroying the image of the government.
“These abusive police officers are destroying the credibility of the government,” he added. “Who will follow the government if the credibility is destroyed?”