Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros on Friday called on Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre to formally inhibit from investigating the killing of 11th grader Kian Delos Santos.
Hontiveros also called on Aguirre to cease from offering to bring the witnesses under his department's witness protection program (WPP).
"Like delivering sheep into the lion's den"
"After his one-sided statements in yesterday's hearing, the justice secretary has lost all credibility to hear this case. He has also lost the trust and confidence of the public that he can capably protect the witnesses. Placing the witnesses to Secretary Aguirre's 'care' would be like delivering sheep into the lion's den," Hontiveros said.
"In the spirit and interest of impartiality and the pursuit of justice, I demand that the justice secretary inhibit himself from all investigations being conducted into the killing of Kian," Hontiveros added.
Hontiveros, who is also the Chair of the Senate Committee on Women and Children, supported Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon's proposal to let the Office of the Ombudsman investigate Delos Santos' death in a police operation in Caloocan City on Aug. 16 to ensure an impartial investigation. She said that the Ombudsman has the mandate to investigate cases of wrongdoing committed by public officials.
"In the coming days, we will seek legal ways of making the justice secretary inhibit himself from this case. We will not allow him to undermine the credibility of the witnesses, weaken the case and limit the level of accountability to a few rotten police personnel," Hontiveros said.
Ang 'fake news king' ng Padre Faura ay 'Areglo king' na rin. Hindi natin papayagan na aregluhin niya ang kaso na ito gaya ng ginawa niya sa kasong pamamaslang kay Albuera Mayor Espinosa kung saan he downgraded the charges of Police Superintendent Marvin Marcos and his co-accused," Hontiveros stressed.
Mother of one of the witnesses retracted statement vs. Hontiveros
Meanwhile, the mother of one of the minor witnesses has retracted her previous statement accusing Hontiveros of not seeking her permission to take her child under the Senator's custody.
In a live phone patch from Oman, the mother apologized to Hontiveros and said that she was merely confused and afraid for the safety of her child. She explained to the media that her trust is with Hontiveros having signed an authorization letter to allow the Senate to take custody of her child.
"I hope this settles with finality the issue of custody and stops malevolent forces from muddling this issue in an attempt to prevent the public from seeking the truth and bringing justice for the killing of Kian," Hontiveros said.
Witnesses now under the Senate's protection
It was reported that after yesterday's hearing, the three witnesses initially under the protection of Hontiveros along with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) National Center for Legal Aid and Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David are now under the custody and care of the Senate.
"The witnesses are now under the full protection and care of the Senate as an institution. I would like to thank Senator Panfilo Lacson, Chair of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs and Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III for helping make this happen. This is a crucial step in ensuring that the witnesses, particularly the minors, get the best possible witness care to enable them to give evidence in the best way possible in terms of the quality of their testimonies while reducing trauma and stress to them," Hontiveros said.
Source: Senate of the Philippines