Allow us to give you some context if you’ve been keeping away from the news lately: a 17-year-old Grade 12 student named Kian Loyd delos Santos was shot dead by policemen in Caloocan who were “doing their job” as part of this administration’s war on drugs. According to the policemen, Kian was a runner for wanted drug dealer Neneng Escopino. He allegedly fired at policemen with a .45 cal. pistol and the officers shot back, killing him.
However, CCTV footage of the incident showed the police officers carrying Kian, disproving their statements that Kian resisted arrest. Witnesses say that Kian was given a gun by the policemen and was told to run before being shot down. Furthermore, Kian tested negative for gunpowder– this means that he did not fire any gun. The relieved police chief of Caloocan City admitted that the information that Kian Loyd Delos Santos was a drug pusher was somehow based on posts circulating on social media.
The case has caused an uproar among Filipinos, and has once again put emphasis on the human rights violations happening in the country due to the government’s campaign against illegal drugs. The Senate conducted an investigation about the case today, August 24, and Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II was among those who were invited to answer questions about the incident.
Aguirre’s answers drew the ire of both netizens and lawmakers as he downplayed the death of Kian and defended the policemen who were involved in the incident. Here are some of his statements:
After hearing Aguirre’s statements, Sen. Drilon questioned the Secretary’s impartiality to the incident.
Many netizens have expressed their anger for Aguirre over Twitter. As the senate hearing progressed, we all went through the five stages of listening to Sec. Aguirre:
At first, you probably found it hard to believe. The Justice Secretary is saying that the death of a minor was just overblown? That Kian was just “collateral damage”? That can’t be right. He’s supposed to be upholding the justice system and ensuring that the people responsible for Kian’s death are punished by law, not take sides.
Then, you see the news for yourself. You watch the video and hear the words pouring out of his mouth. And yet, it’s hard to believe. You wonder if Aguirre actually hears what he is saying out loud. You wonder if he actually believes in what he says, even though all evidence point to the opposite. How can anyone, most especially the Justice Secretary, still deny the truth about what happened when all the facts are already laid out?
You feel helpless, hopeless. What kind of bleak future awaits us if the people running this country are like Aguirre? How could people like this be the ones who have the power to rule and decide which crimes are punished or not?
Then, you get mad. This is simply unacceptable! There’s no way this man should still be in office! You grow sick of hearing Aguirre’s statements and maybe even feel a deep need to punch him.
You’re probably beside yourself with anger. You’re so outraged by the war on drugs and the people behind it who for some reason think killing minors is fine. You feel like screaming, but the most you can do right now is write angry posts online calling for justice.
5. Action or Inaction
The next step could go one of two ways for you. You could either let the anger pass and let yourself forget this whole incident. That’s easy enough. If the past months can show us anything, it is that these deaths have somehow become our new normal. We tend to forget after a while, and most of the time it’s just easier to ignore the situation and focus on the small things that you can control. But maybe this time around, we don’t forget. It may seem hopeless but there are things that can be done. People are clamoring nationwide for justice–why not join them? Getting frustrated and mad is looking like the only sensible reaction to what’s happening to the world right now, but things aren’t going to change if we don’t force it to change.