Senator Risa Hontiveros is wondering why the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) and the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) are making a lot of noise on the custody of two witnesses, both minors, to the killing of a teenager during a drug raid.
The two girls, aged 13 and 16, witnessed the killing of 17-year-old Kian delos Santos on Aug. 16 by policemen during a drug operation at barangay 160 in Caloocan City.
“We hope the custody and protection of some of the witnesses are not being used to muddle the search for truth and justice in the Kian killing,” Hontiveros said.
Roy Concepcion, the father of one of the witnesses, sought the help of lawyer Ferdinand Topacio, to take custody of his child from Hontiveros. They failed to get her. It turned out that all of his five children are now under the care of Caloocan Bishop Virgilio David.
Concepcion, recently released from jail on drug charges, said he missed his children. “Makuha ko lang mga anak ko, okay na po sa akin. Na-mi miss ko mga anak ko.”
Hontiveros said that the custody of the young witnesses has already been settled with the mother and guardian of the girls. “If PAO wants to get the testimonies of the witnesses, they are free to do so.”
“The CHR (Commission on Human Rights), NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) and Ombudsman have already done so. It is only PAO who hasn’t. PAO doesn’t need to take custody of the witnesses in order to get their testimonies,” she said.
Hontiveros added, “In fact, the NBI was able to file its own case using the testimonies of the witnesses without asking for their custody. Bakit hindi ito magawa ng PAO?”
“Kung tingin ng pamilya ng isa sa mga minor witnesses na nasa pangangalaga ngayon ng Simbahan ay mas mapapangalagaan ang kanyang kaligtasan sa ibang lugar, lubos nating igagalang ito. Sa dulo, at lagi naning inuulit, ang ultimong desisyon ay nasa mga witnesses at kanilang pamilya,” she said.