MANILA, Philippines – Former president Benigno Aquino III condemned the killing of Kian Loyd delos Santos, the 17-year-old boy shot by Caloocan police during an anti-drug raid on August 16.
Aquino said he was horrified upon finding out the details of Delos Santos' death in the hands of the police.
"Number one, siyempre 'pag nababasa ko 'yung mga nakikita ko sa diyaryo, 'yung parte na nagugulpi pa, nakikiusap na, 'di ba sabi, 'Bukas may pasok pa ako.' Siyempre nakakagimbal," Aquino told reporters in an interview on Monday, August 21, after the Mass for the 34th death anniversary of his father, former senator Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr.
(Number one, when I read the newspapers, the part where he was attacked despite pleading for his life, and he supposedly said, "I have classes tomorrow." Of course, that's horrifying.)
Aquino said there is a need for a swift but thorough investigation into the matter. He said the probe should not drag on for years, as it might only negatively affect the teenager's case.
"Pero tinuruan din naman tayo na ang trabaho natin bilang mambabatas muna at bilang pangulo ay kailangan magka-imbestigasyon para 'di haka-haka ang mangyari. Importante doon sa imbestigasyon, 'wag naman umabot nang pagkatagal-tagal. 'Yung matagal na imbestigasyon, imbis na nagpapalinaw, nagpapalabo," the former president said.
(But we were also taught that our job as a lawmaker first then as a president is to conduct an investigation so we do not rely on hearsay. What's important is that the investigation does not drag on for years. A lengthy investigation brings more confusion, instead of setting things straight.)
Asked to comment on the rise of drug-related killings, Aquino said the state has an obligation to protect its citizens.
"Ako pananaw ko, maski saan mo tignan, sa Saligang Batas, sa simbahan na kinabibilangan ko, bawa't isang mamatay ay sobra," Aquino said. (In my view, no matter how you look at it, in the eyes of the Constitution, in the church where I belong to, one death is one too many.)
Mothers in pain
In a speech before family and supporters, Aquino said Delos Santos' mother reminded him of his paternal grandmother, Doña Aurora Aquino.
Delos Santos' mother is a domestic worker abroad. She came home to Manila to bury her son.
Aquino recalled how his grandmother was waiting for her son's arrival at the Manila International Airport (now the Ninoy Aquino International Airport) in 1983, only to find out that her son was shot dead.
"Nabasa ko lang ho 'yung pahayag ng nanay, isang OFW (overseas Filipino worker), wala raw dapat magulang ang maglilibing sa sariling anak. Naalala ko noong araw, 34 years ago, ang lola ko, nanay ng aking ama, isa sa tinitingala namin na source of strength, nasa airport siya, sasalubungin ang anak niyang matagal nang 'di nakikita. Sa isang lounge sa airport binalita sa kanya na napaslang ang aking ama," Aquino said.
(I read the statement of Delos Santos' mother, an OFW, and she said no parent should bury her child. I remember 34 years ago, my paternal grandmother, one of our sources of strength, she was at the airport ready to welcome her son who she had not seen in a long time. She was at the airport lounge when she received the news that my father had been killed.)
Aquino then showed a photo of former senator Lorenzo Tañada comforting his grandmother upon learning of the news.
"Tapos napasandal na lang siya. Minsanang bumuhos ang luha niya. 'Pag tayo nawawalan, naghahanap tayo ng parang hustisya, katarungan, na magbabayad mga may sala," the former president said.
(She just sat down. Her tears fell all at once. When we lose someone, we seek justice, we hope that the sinners will pay for what they did.)
With the Senate set to conduct an investigation into Delos Santos' death on Thursday, August 24, Aquino said he already has questions in mind if he were still in office. He, however, refused to say these in public.
Members of the Senate majority bloc adopted a resolution condemning the spate of drug-related killings and calling for a probe into Delos Santos' death.