Ombudsman starts own probe into Kian delos Santos' death

MANILA, Philippines – The Office of the Ombudsman started its probe into the death of 17-year-old Kian Loyd delos Santos, who was shot dead by police during a drug raid in Caloocan City on August 16.

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales announced this on Tuesday, August 29, after a Senate budget hearing on her office's proposed 2018 budget. (READ: Can Ombudsman take over Kian case?)

"We already started our fact-finding investigation. The Military and Other Law Enforcement Offices (MOLEO) of Ramos is here. He has already started the fact-finding investigation," Morales told reporters in an interview, referring to Deputy Ombudsman Cyril Ramos who heads the MOLEO.

Morales also said they have already started sending out subpoenas for documents and witnesses.

Police shot Delos Santos for allegedly fighting back during an anti-drug operation. CCTV footage and witnesses' testimonies, however, indicate that the boy was a victim of an extrajudicial killing.

Ballistic tests show the bullet found inside Delos Santos' body came from the gun of PO3 Arnel Oares, who led the raid. Delos Santos, meanwhile, tested negative for gunpowder.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said he talked to Morales, who supposedly confirmed that her office has indeed "concurrent jurisdiction" over Delos Santos' case, as it involves government officers with a salary grade below SG27.

"The Ombudsman has confirmed that she has concurrent jurisdiction with the DOJ (Department of Justice) insofar as Kian's killing is concerned. But, because of the MOA (memorandum of agreement), it's the DOJ that's assuming jurisdiction. She is, in fact, conducting a fact-finding investigation on the same case, on a number of issues," Drilon said.

In the Senate probe into the teenager's death, Drilon slammed Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II for his "bias" and asked Aguirre if he would be willing to have the case transferred to the Ombudsman.

Aguirre, however, rejected the proposal because it might make the DOJ look "incompetent" and incapable of conducting an impartial probe. (READ: Aguirre: What's the difference between kids killed by addicts, cops?)

"If [the] Ombudsman can conduct [a] preliminary investigation on impeachable officials, how much more ordinary policemen? So that only indicates the erroneous interpretation of the secretary (Aguirre) in the desire to just assume jurisdiction over the investigation," Drilon said. 

On Tuesday, a formal petition was filed before the DOJ seeking its inhibition from conducting a preliminary investigation into the murder and torture complaints against Caloocan City cops.

"The Office of the Ombudsman is the best forum to conduct the preliminary investigation for this case given the impartiality of this constitutionally-mandated body," said the petition. – Rappler.com

Camille Elemia

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

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