Drilon to Aguirre: Axe Caloocan prosecutor for 'prejudice' vs Kian

MANILA, Philippines – Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon asked Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II to immediately axe a Caloocan City prosecutor for his biased statements against Kian Loyd delos Santos, the 17-year-old boy killed by policemen.

Drilon, a former justice chief, said Aguirre should "immediately remove" Caloocan City Assistant Prosecutor Darwin Cañete from the case for his "hostility" toward the victim. (READ: Our son Kian: A good, sweet boy)

"The risk of prejudice is too great in the case of Cañete and this behooves the secretary of justice to intervene, if he is intent on fulfilling his job of administering justice in the country," Drilon said in a statement on Sunday, August 20.

The senator said he was "dismayed" and "furious" upon hearing about the remarks made the prosecutor.

Cañete, a vocal supporter of President Rodrigo Duterte and his bloody drug war, questioned in his social media accounts the innocence of Delos Santos, whose killing sparked public outrage.

"The case is seriously prejudiced by Cañete. His frame of mind and line of reasoning are very disturbing. We must never tolerate such behavior of a fiscal that imperils the administration of justice in the country," Drilon said.

In an interview with the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Cañete was also quoted as saying that the possibility of Delos Santos being a "totally innocent boy" is "too far-fetched."

"I am not saying they did not kill the kid. [Police] should be held accountable if ever it's a proven EJK (extrajudicial killing). But making the kid super innocent? I am not buying it," Cañete told the newspaper.

Because of these remarks, Drilon said Cañete "cannot be trusted" to fulfill his duties to investigate and prosecute the policemen responsible for Delos Santos' death.

Caloocan police claimed that Delos Santos was a drug suspect who, upon seeing them during anti-drug operations, fired his gun toward the direction of the cops. CCTV video and witnesses' testimonies, however, indicated otherwise. 

Violations

Citing Section 7 of Republic Act 10071 or the Prosecution Service Act of 2010, Drilon said the secretary of the Department of Justice (DOJ) is allowed to designate another prosecutor "in instances where parties question the partiality or bias of a particular city or provincial prosecutor."

"Secretary Aguirre publicly said that he has ordered the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) to probe into the death of Delos Santos and file the appropriate charges against those responsible. This would be nothing but lip service if he, in his capacity as Justice Secretary, does not properly respond to Cañete's public pronouncements," Drilon said.

The senator added that Cañete may have also violated the Code of Conduct of Prosecutors, which mandates prosecutors to conduct themselves in the highest ethical standards of fairness, dignity, impartiality, and integrity.

Drilon said Aguirre should reassign Cañete to other posts such as one in the DOJ main office so "he can reacquaint himself with the basics of due process and respect for the rule of law."

"The administration of justice in the country is better served without the likes of Cañete who are the reason why the public does not trust our justice system," Drilon said.

Cañete, through his Facebook account, earlier encouraged the killing of "yellow forces," or groups critical of Duterte, including the Liberal Party where Drilon is a member.

"This is why no ceasefire. No stopping. No compromise. Fact is, yellows are evil. You do not talk to them. You kill them. After you kill one, you find another to destroy. Like cockroaches," the prosecutor said in a Facebook post last June 12. – Rappler.com

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is a multimedia reporter focusing on media, technology, and disinformation.

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