MANILA, Philippines – Friends, classmates, and neighbors of 17-year old Kian delos Santos on Friday, August 25, gathered in a peaceful protest led by "running priest" Father Robert Reyes and Father Flavie Villanueva to demand justice for the slain teenager.
After joining "Run, Kian, Run" – a protest run in memory of Delos Santos, the participants heard mass officiated by Father George Alfonso of the Diocese of Caloocan.
During the mass, Delos Santos' friends shared stories about their buddy which did not jibe with his supposed profile as a drug courier, as alleged by police.
One of them said Delos Santos used to borrow his shoes for school because Delos Santos' shoes were too worn out. In the morning, he would knock on Delos Santos' home to retrieve his shoes, then later, it would be Delos Santos' turn to use the pair again.
Delos Santos' best friend, Leonard, spoke about his grief and anger over his friend's death.
He said it pains him that stories were being fabricated to whitewash the case. "Pinatay na nga siya, sinisira pa nila 'yung buong pagkatao niya (They already killed him and now they're trying to destroy his character)," Leonard lamented.
"Bigay 'nyo naman po sa amin 'yung hustisya para sa kaibigan namin," he pleaded. "Wag 'nyo na pong ibahin 'yung kuwento. Aminin 'nyo na lang po." (Please give justice to our friend. Don't change the story. Just admit it.)
He said Delos Santos, who always made an effort to bring all their friends together, didn't know how to fight; he only knew how to make people laugh. Leonard said Delos Santos didn't know how to hold a knife, what more a gun?
Leonard was referring to the insistence of the police team that they shot Delos Santos because he fired his gun at them first. The paraffin test conducted by the Philippine National Police (PNP) on Delos Santos yielded negative results.
Photo by Eloisa Lopez/Rappler
Like Delos Santos, Leonard also dreamt of becoming a policeman. On the eve of his friend's burial, Leonard had a message for the 3 policemen who killed his friend.
"Sa tatlong pulis na iniidolo sana namin, bakit 'nyo kinuha ang buhay niya? Ang hirap paniwalaan na 'yung iniidolo mo, 'yung nagbibigay sa 'yo ng lakas ng loob sa pangarap mo, sila pala ang puputol nito," he said.
(To the 3 policemen whom we should be idolizing, why did you take his life? It's hard to believe that the ones you idolized, the ones who gave you the inner strength to pursue your dream, are also the ones who would end this [dream].)
The mass ended with Delos Santos' friends rapping and singing the chorus to their tribute song, "Justice for Kian delos Santos."
"Wala kang kasalanan, wala kang kasalanan, wala kang kasalanan, inosente ka, Kian (You're innocent, you're innocent, you're innocent, Kian)," they sang.
Reyes said he initiated the protest run so that family, friends, and supporters of Delos Santos would become instruments to "run" and fight for the victim, and the thousands of others who have died in the war on drugs.
"Kailangang hindi natin mapabayaan si Kian, kung hindi ay papatayin din natin ang katotohanan (We should not neglect [the case of] Kian. Otherwise, we would also be killing the truth)," Reyes said.
The priest prayed for the 3 policemen and the entire PNP. He prayed for "anyone with a gun and anyone who's attempting to kill or have killed, that their eyes may be opened to the truth."
Photo by Eloisa Lopez/Rappler
After the mass, Reyes and Villanueva proceeded to the area where Delos Santos was killed. They were joined by Delos Santos' uncle, neighbors, and friends who wore white T-shirts with a black ribbon bearing the message, "Justice for Kian."
Houses in Delos Santos' community had white ribbons to express their sympathy to the slain boy's family.
The spot where Delos Santos was killed was next to a pig pen, where residents would sometimes throw their garbage. The bullet holes were still visible on the wall. There were candles and flowers for him on that spot.
The priests started a short prayer. Reyes prayed that the truth would not get lost in the garbage thrown in the ditch. He prayed that the truth would grow from it. He prayed that the truth would finally emerge not only for Delos Santos, but also for the thousands like him who were killed without dignity, like animals. – Rappler.com