THE Philippines Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) says it will seek murder charges on Friday against the three police officers reportedly involved in the killing of 17-year-old Kian delos Santos.
According to Inquirer.net, filed before the Department of Justice (DoJ) is a complaint for violations of the Revised Penal Code for murder and Republic Act 9745 or the Anti-Torture Law specifically for torture leading to death and involving children.
The accused officers have been identified as Philippines National Police (PNP) officers Jeremias Pereda, Jerwin Cruz and Arnel Oares.
The death of high school student delos Santos on Aug 16 in a rundown area of Manila has drawn huge domestic attention to allegations by activists that police have been systematically executing suspected users and dealers, a charge authorities deny.
Delos Santos was found dead in an alley with a gun in his left hand. His family said he had no weapon, was right-handed and had no involvement in drugs.
Police, which maintain they acted in self-defence, said delos Santos shot at them when he saw them coming. According to Rappler, 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 policemen 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”.
An autopsy concluded delos Santos had been shot in the ear and in the back as his killer stood over him.
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.
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 killed thousands of Filipinos, outraged human rights groups and alarmed Western governments. Most Filipinos, however, support the campaign, according to opinion polls, and domestic opposition has been muted.
Duterte has claimed repeatedly he would protect police officers from any legal consequences while they are fighting his anti-drug campaign.
He has since taken a softer tone, telling police on Wednesday to arrest suspects and kill only if their lives were in danger, adding he would not protect those who killed unarmed people.
The three policemen linked to delos Santos’ death and their superior, Chief Inspector Amor Cerillo, were relieved from their posts and placed under restrictive custody prior to the filing of the complaint.
Additional reporting by Reuters