Karapatan on Kian Loyd Delos Santos’ 3rd death anniversary: justice remains elusive for drug war victims

On the third anniversary of the murder of 17-year-old Kian Loyd Delos Santos, human rights watchdog Karapatan reiterated its call for justice, which the group asserted, “remains elusive for the thousands of victims killed in the government’s sham and bloody war on drugs as it continues to claim more and more lives with rampant impunity.”

Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay stated that the killing of Kian as well as the recently-publicized findings of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on the fabricated anti-drug operations conducted by personnel of the San Jose Del Monte City Police Station — which left six people dead — “bare the police’s lies which they have repeatedly used to justify their killings.”

“Three years after Kian’s murder, the government has not ceased in its deranged killing spree and in justifying the murders with the same old ‘nanlaban’ script. Kian’s killing and the fabricated police buy-bust in San Jose Del Monte City show the utter hollowness of the police’s blatant lies — and the deplorable brutalities and human rights violations they cover up such as illegal arrests and abduction, brutal torture, and the planting of evidence. Who knows how many more have been killed in the same way?” Palabay asked.

In a July 27 complaint released to the media last Wednesday, August 12, the NBI recommended the filing of charges against 11 personnel of the San Jose Del Monte City Police Station after investigations uncovered that the police illegally arrested six individuals — Erwin Mergal, Jim Joshua Cordero, Edmar Aspirin, Richard Salgado, Chamberlain Domingo, and Chadwin Santos — on the night of February 13.

The NBI investigation further revealed that the six victims were brought to the police station, where they were handcuffed to chairs, blindfolded, and detained without any charges. In the following days, the police took the victims to an area where they were shot dead and were made to appear as if they were killed in a buy-bust operation after they resisted arrest and fought back or attempted to escape.

The Karapatan official said that “these disturbing narratives have become all-too-familiar for anyone because the police have used the same ‘nanlaban’ script and other tokhang-style tactics not only in anti-drug operations but even in the government’s cold-blooded killings of activists such as the brutal torture and murder of Ka Randy Echanis.” 

“The Duterte government is now desperately trying to save face with mounting domestic and international pressure for accountability by investigating and prosecuting the perpetrators of these barbarities after giving them the license to kill, kill, kill for the past four years — all in order to evade probes by international human rights bodies such as the United Nations Human Rights Council and the International Criminal Court — as it duplicitously continues its murderous rampage,” Palabay continued.

“Today, we reassert our demand for justice for Kian, the six victims in San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan, and all the victims of the sham and bloody drug war as well as our call for an international, independent investigation mechanism to truly bring justice to the victims of this fascist and murderous regime. It’s only a matter of time before the Duterte regime’s cabal of corrupt criminals and bloody human rights violators face reckoning from the people,” she ended.