Department of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II fears that the child witnesses in the killing of Kian Delos Santos in Caloocan City may have been brainwashed if they are not put under the Witness Protection Program of the government.
The witnesses 2 of whom are minors – 13 and 16 years old are reportedly under the protective custody of opposition Senator and Liberal Party member- Senator Risa Hontiveros, which is known as one of the critic against the anti-drug war and the Duterte administration as a whole.
Senator Hontiveros, claims that the Delos Santos requested her to help them in the protection of the witnesses.
|Parents of slain minor Kian Delos Santos, during the Senate hearing on the killing of their son, Kian at the Senate yesterday( photo credit to Philstar)|
“If these witnesses, especially they are children, two of them — 13 and 16 years old — are put under the custody of an individual, especially if this individual’s fairness is in question, the credibility of these witnesses is bound to go down because we could never avoid the suspicion that they might have been brainwashed, especially these children,” Aguirre said.
Aguirre said that the credibility of the young witnesses in the case is bound to go down if they remain out of the hands of government authorities. Moreso, they are in the so-called protection of an opposition senator- like Risa Hontiveros.
The opposition is said to have been using the death of the Delos Santos to forward their political ambitions against the Duterte administration.
Young witnesses are susceptible to brainwashing and suggestions, the Justice chief reasoned during the Senate probe regarding delos Santos killing.
The government through the WPP has the capacity to take care of the witnesses.
Kaya’t kung 'yan po ay nasa pangangalaga ng isang tao na hindi naman sanay sa — o walang kakayahan, o walang edukasyon tungkol sa pangagalaga ng mga child witnesses na may sapat na kakayahan. Ang [Witness Protection Program] ang may kakayahan pong protektahan sila, especially with the threats,” he told the Senate. *
Aguirre in the House of Representatives
The Justice Secretary stood by his statements he made in the House of Representatives when he said that the death of Kian Delos Santos was blown out of proportion.
Blown out of proportion in the media kaya akala mo napakalaki na,” Aguirre, discussing the death of a Grade 11 student who was shot three times, said at a budget hearing for the Department of Justice
"There are thousands of killings because of the focus of the president on illegal drugs. There was no equivalent incident in the past which could be compared with the Delos Santos killing," the Justice secretary said.
Deaths and collateral damage are but natural as government is waging a war on illegal drugs.
“Giyera ito e. Magkakaroon talaga ng casualty, whether it be an adult or children,” Aguirre, whose department pledges on its website to "provide every person equal access to justice, to faithfully safeguard constitutional rights and to ensure that no one is deprived of due process of law," Aguirre said.
He threw the question to those Kian symphatizers if they are giving the same treatment to those other families left behind by victims of rape and other heinous crimes. *
“Anong ginagawa ng mga taong iyan na naki-simpatiya kunwari kay Kian? Anong ginawa nila nung pinatay ang pamilya sa Bulacan? May dumalaw ba sa inyo dun? Wala, sapagkat iisa din lamang ang nakikita niyo e,” said the Justice chief.
Kabataan party-list Sarh Elago, blasted Aguirre for labelling the death of kian as a mere “isolated case”.
Hindi katanggap-tangap yung sinabi ng ating secretary na yung kaso ay isa lamang isolated case. I can’t help but think that the good secretary has been living under a rock tungkol sa mga kaso na ito, na nangyayari na sa kasamaang palad na nadamay di lamang sa kabataan, maski ang mga menor de edad at maski ang mga bata bata po ay nadadamay dito,” she said.
Aguirre retorted: “I sympathize with you, being the representative of Kabataan ay totoo po yang sinasabi ninyo. Pero hindi lamang natin tingnan tong mga biktima na mga kabataan sa war on drugs. Yung mga ginawang mga pagpatay, pag-rape sa mga kabataan ay walang – masyado naman kayong tahimik.”
Sen. Hontiveros answers back DOJ and PAO
“Ako lamang ay nagugulat sa biglang pangyayari. Mukhang may mga pwersang gumagalaw para kunin ang mga testigo, i-undermine ang kaso at limitahan ang accountability sa panig lamang ng mga pulis,” Hontiveros said in a press conference on Thursday, August 24. *
The senator claims that the two government agencies cannot be trusted.
Hontiveros lashed out also over Atty. Acosta’s statement that there are no extrajudicial killings under the Duterte administration, she added.
“Ako ay nababahala sa pahayag ng PAO ng wala daw extrajudicial killings sa ilalim ni Pangulong Duterte. Nakakabahala ito lalo na at sila ang humahawak sa kaso ni Kian, na by all indications points to a clear case of extrajudicial killing,” she said.