MANILA, Philippines – Some 200 protesters marched on Monday afternoon, August 21, to the neighborhood in Caloocan City, where police gunned down a 17-year-old boy last week in a wave of anti-drug raids.
Among those who called for justice for Kian delos Santos were the relatives of other young people who had been killed in the government's bloody war on drugs since President Rodrigo Duterte came to power a year ago.
"Hustisya para kay Kian, hustisya para sa lahat," the protesters chanted as they held candles and marched from the Santa Quiteria Church to Delos Santos' wake in Barangay 160, both in Caloocan. (WATCH: The dark alley to Kian delos Santos' death)
Anne (not her real name) came to call for justice not just for Delos Santos but for her brother and mother, who were also killed in December 2016 when unknown assailants entered their home and left seven dead in the neighborhood in one night.
She said when news broke about Delos Santos, it felt like another heartbreak: "Tuwing may naririnig ako na pinatay – lalo na bata, lalo na estudyante – parang nauulit 'yong pakiramdam noong namatayan kami." (Everytime I hear of people getting killed – especially children, especially students – it feels like losing a loved one all over again.)
Photo by Eloisa Lopez
Another woman, who also lost a family member to the war on drugs, said the outrage sparked by the killing of Delos Santos could lead to people power revolt again if sustained.
"Konti na lang, bibinggo din 'yan," she said, referring to abusive people in power. (They are pushing the people's limits, this will catch up with them in time.)
Also among the marchers was activist and perfomer Mae Paner, who said she regrets it is only now that she knew Kian – when he is already in a casket.
She urged neighbors and supporters of Kian to continuously tell the true story of the boy they knew in the face of different versions told by government and carried by the media.
Photo by Eloisa Lopez
If people don't rise up against those who abuse their authority, she said, Delos Santos wouldn't be the last to die. “Maraming marami pa po ang mamamatay pagkatapos ni Kian, at alam kong ayaw na natin niyan.” (More will died after Kian, and I know we don't want that to happen.)
Paner added: “Hindi natin puwedeng siguraduhin na sa mga darating na araw, hindi natin sapitin ang sinapit ni Kian…. Kaya sana po, ipagpatuloy natin ang paglaban na magkaroon ng hustisya at katahimikan ang kamatayan ni Kian.” (We don't have the assurance that in the coming days what happened to Kian won't happen to us.... So, please, let's continue fighting to attain justice for Kian and give him peace.)
Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes condemned the President’s support for the “brutal activities” perpetrated by the Philippine National Police.
“Wala pong hustisya kapag ganyan ang umiiral na sistema. Lahat ng pulis, lalakas ang loob kasi alam nila bibigyan sila ng presidential pardon ni Rodrigo Duterte. Kahit sino ka pa, p'wede kang mamatay," Reyes said. (There will never be justice if this is the system that we have. Cops will become brazen since they know they will be given presidential pardon by Rodrigo Duterte. So whoever you are, you can get killed.) – Rappler.com