LOOK | Shouts for justice as thousands accompany Kian to final resting place

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A picture of Kian is placed on top of the hearse bearing the slain teenager's body during the funeral march. (photo by Obet de Castro)

MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATE 3 – 9:40 p.m.) Thousands of mourners turned out in Caloocan City Saturday morning to escort the body of Kian Lloyd delos Santos, the teenager whose death at the hands of policemen last week reignited public outrage over the unabated killings in the government’s war on drugs.

Nuns, priests and hundreds of children, chanting “justice for Kian, justice for all” joined the funeral cortege as it made its way from a church to La Loma cemetery where the 17-year-old was buried six hours after the procession began.

Delos Santos’ father, Saldy, spoke briefly during a mass to defend his son’s innocence and express anger over the police.

“Don’t they have a heart? I’m not sure they do. There’s a lot of churches, they should go there,” he said, his voice cracking with emotion.

Delos Santos’ flower-draped coffin passed through a major highway on a small truck decorated with tarpaulins reading “Run, Kian, Run” and “Stop the killings” displayed on each side. Passing motorists honked in support.

“This is a sign that the people have had enough and are indignant over the impunity that prevails today,” Renato Reyes, secretary general of left-wing activist group Bayan (Nation), said in a statement. “The people protest the utter lack of accountability in the police force.”

Mourners, some of them wearing white shirts, held flowers and small flags, and placards denouncing the killing.

A member of Rise Up, a Manila-based coalition of church-related groups opposing the drug war, told Reuters that families of about 20 victims joined the procession.

“I came to support the family. I want justice for Kian and all victims – including my son,” said Katherine David, 35, whose 21-year-old son was shot dead by police with two other men in January.

Department of Justice personnel armed with assault rifles were on guard during the procession and outside the church.

The funeral procession left the Delos Santos residence past 7 a.m. and stopped for a protest at Caloocan police community precinct 7 in Sta. Quiteria, where the officers who killed Kian are assigned.

Lorenza delos Santos bends over Kian’s coffin in the family home before the funeral march. (photo by Kathy Yamzon, Stop the Killings Network)

Most of the mourners — family, neighbors, friends, schoolmates and members of human rights and civil society organizations — carried signs or wore shirts demanding justice.

“I came to support the family. I want justice for Kian and all victims — including my son,” Katherine David, 35, whose 21-year old son was shot dead by police with two other men in January.

A member of Rise Up, a coalition of church-related groups opposing the drug war, told Reuters that families of about 20 victims joined the procession.

David believes the response to Kian’s killing marks a turning point in the opposition to the drug war that has put primacy on neutralizing suspects, leaving a trail of death in the thousands.

Kian’s father Saldy delos Santos at the funeral march with a security escort from the Department of Justice.

“There’s been a big change. Before, police could kill and nobody paid attention. Now people are starting to show support and sympathy,” she said.

12 minor-victims in Caloocan
At the funeral mass for the slain teenager at the Sta. Quiteria parish church before the burial, Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David said Kian was not the only youth killed in the city in the war on drugs.

‘Di lang si Kian at ‘di sya ang unang biktimang kabataan ng pamamaslang sa war on drugs. Dito sa Caloocan, sa aming tala ay 12 na (It isn’t just Kian and he isn’t the first young victim of the killings in the war on drugs. Here in Caloocan, by our count, there have already been 12),” David said.

Nuns join the funeral march for Kian. (photo by Kathy Yamzon, Stop the Killings Network)

Kian’s killing once again brought to question the war on drugs President Rodrigo Duterte has been waging since last year, which various tallies estimate has claimed more than 12,000 lives since, both from what police maintain are “legitimate” operations or in street drive-by shootings and vigilante-style executions.

Despite this, Duterte has refused to relent and has vowed to protect law enforcers who may be convicted for “obeying his orders.”

(VIEW REUTERS’ PRESENTATION ON KIAN’S KILLING HERE: tmsnrt.rs/2ixnYFu)

Murder complaint
The parents and lawyers of delos Santos filed a murder complaint against the three anti-narcotics policemen on Friday.

If accepted, the complaint would follow at least two cases filed last year against police over Duterte’s war on drugs, which has killed thousands of Filipinos, outraged human rights groups and alarmed Western governments.
Most people in the Philippines support the anti-drug campaign, and Duterte remains a popular leader but questions have begun to be asked since the death of delos Santos, which came during a spike in killings across the Philippines’ main island, Luzon, last week.

The president’s communication office reiterated on Saturday he will not tolerate wrongdoing by law enforcers and called on the public to “trust the justice system under the Duterte presidency.”

But the bereaved mother who joined the Kian procession, Katherine David, believes the response to Kian’s killing marks a turning point in opposition to the drug war.

“There’s been a big change. Before, police could kill and nobody paid attention. Now people are starting to show support and sympathy,” she said.

Kian delos Santos’ mother Lorenza, an overseas Filipino worker, wears a shirt and holds a picture of her son with a demand for justice at the family home before the funeral march. (photo by Kathy Yamzon, Stop the Killings Network)

The 17-year old senior high school student was to be buried at the La Loma Cemetery in Quezon City exactly 10 days after he was gunned down in what police claimed was a shootout during a “One Time, Big Time” anti-crime sweep but which closed circuit television and witnesses indicate was a coldblooded execution.

Kian was dragged by plainclothes policemen to a dark, trash-filled alley in northern Manila, before he was shot in the head and left next to a pigsty, according to witness accounts that appeared to be backed up by the CCTV footage.

In a statement Saturday, the human rights organization Karapatan called the war on drugs “a massive failure, a tragedy which has rid the Filipino people of their rights and has normalized abuses by State forces.”

The bloody campaign, it said, “taking this nation nowhere” as “the Duterte regime is no closer to solving the drug problem today than when he took office last year.”

“As we mourn for Kian Lloyd delos Santos today, let us strengthen our resolve for justice for all victims of State terror,” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said.

A nun sports a bag with the message ‘Thou shalt not kill’ as she joins the funeral march. (photo by Kathy Yamzon, Stop the Killings Network)

For its part, the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan demanded accountability not only of the police officers who killed Kian but also Duterte “who sanctioned the killings.”

“Duterte’s war on drugs is a war on the poor” that “falsely claims to be a solution to the proliferation of illegal drugs but targets mostly street-level dealers and not the big criminal syndicates in and out of government,” Bayan said.

“The killings themselves corrupt the police force through a system of quotas and financial rewards for police officers. Rather than eliminating crime, Duterte’s grotesque drug war has spawned new crimes and encouraged impunity on an entirely new level,” it added.

 

A protester holds a sign calling polic ‘killers’ as the funeral march stopped for a protest atCaloocan police community precinct 7. (photo by Kathy Yamzon, Stop the Killings Network)

“As Kian is laid to rest, we call on the Filipino people to continue the fight against tyranny and abuse, against fascism and impunity,” Bayan said.

On Friday, Kian’s parents, Saldy and Lorenza, filed murder charges against Police Officer 3 Arnel Oares and Police Officers 1 Jeremias Pereda and Jerwin Cruz, their supervisor Caloocan City Police Community Precinct 7 commander Chief Inspector Amor Cerillo, and several unidentified individuals.

If accepted, the complaint would follow at least two cases filed last year against police over President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs, which has killed thousands of Filipinos, outraged human rights groups and alarmed Western governments. (with a report from Reuters)

Mourners hold up protest signs during the stopover at Caloocan police community precinct 7. (photo by Kathy Yamzon, Stop the Killings Network)
Residents, including children, hold up protest signs along the route of the funeral march. (photo by Kathy Yamzon, Stop the Killings Network)
The coffin of Kian is carried into the Sta. Quiteria parish church for the funeral mass. (photo by Obet de Castro)
The funeral mass for Kian at the Sta. Quiteria parish church. (photo by CJ Despuez)
Members of the Stop the Killings Network wait for the funeral procession at the gates of La Loma Cemetery. (photo by Kathy Yamzon, Stop the Killings Network)