MANILA � Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Wednesday said witnesses to the shooting of Grade 11 student Kian Loyd Delos Santos who was killed in the August 16 anti-drug operations in Caloocan should be under the government's Witness Protection Program (WPP).
Aguirre made the statement after Senator Risa Hontivers took under the custody of her office the three witnesses in the killing and their families following her visit to Kian's wake over the weekend.
The DOJ chief said the witnesses should be transferred to the custody of the WPP as mandated by law.
"It is the WPP which has the mandate to protect witnesses," he pointed out.
Aguirre noted that Hontiveros' alleged bias against the government's anti-drug campaign may affect the credibility of the witnesses.
"Of course it will affect the credibility of these witnesses considering the bias of their handler," Aguirre explained.
Aguirre then reiterated his offer to the witnesses and the Delos Santos family for coverage in the WPP after they reportedly received death threats.
The WPP is administered by the DOJ
WPP is a program established under Republic Act No. 6981, "The Witness Protection, Security and Benefit Act", which seeks to encourage a person who has witnessed or has knowledge of the commission of a crime to testify before a court or quasi-judicial body, or before an investigating authority, by protecting him from reprisals and from economic dislocation.
Aguirre earlier ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to conduct a probe and case build-up over the death of Delos Santos and to file appropriate charges against the involved policemen.
On Monday, Public Attoneys Office (PAO) chief Persida Rueda-Acosta said they are already preparing the complaint to be filed against the police officers allegedly responsible for Delos Santos' death.
"We are already collating all the evidence that we will use in the filing of the complaint within the week," Acosta said.
She stressed that they will not tolerate any wrongdoing of the police.
"Magpa-file po ng murder ang family Hindi ho kinukunsinti ng PAO kung may abuso," Acosta said.
The four officers implicated in the incident, namely PO3 Arnel Oares, PO1 Jeremias Pereda and PO1 Jerwin Cruz and their precinct commander, Chief Insp. Amor Cerillo, were placed under restrictive custody in wake of the ongoing investigations.
Source: Philippine News Agency