Damage control?

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Three days after the death of 17-year-old Kian delos Santos in the hands of Caloocan City policemen during a drug raid - and after the public appears to have overcome its shock and is now expressing outrage at the brutal manner of his extinction - the cops trotted out an alleged drug suspect who said he had transacted with the young man on drug buys at least twice a week.

Philippine National Police Director General Ronald dela Rosa chimed in with his own sensational claim - that Kian was not only a drug courier but was in fact working for his father and uncles.

Kian’s father, Zaldy delos Santos, strenuously denied the charge, and went on to challenge the cops who had killed his boy to undergo a drug test along with him.

The chair of Barangay 160 in Caloocan had earlier said neither father nor son was on the community’s drug watch list.

So how did Kian end up a target of the police?

If the police knew, as they claim now, that he pushed drugs, what was their basis for the information, since even the barangay apparently had no idea of it?

Why did it take three days for another alleged drug suspect to corroborate the PNP’s claims?

And, more bafflingly - given the severity of the police’s intensified “one-time, big-time” operations against drug networks that in recent days have resulted in mass deaths in various places (32 in Bulacan, 25 in Manila) - if this guy regularly dealt with Kian in drug transactions, why is he alive and Kian dead? How did he manage to escape the dragnet? When and where was he apprehended?

Or is it more likely, as many suspect, that the police are engaging in frantic damage control in an attempt to douse seething public anger at the killing of the 17-year-old?

(Autopsy results showed three gunshot wounds on the boy - in the back and behind and inside the left ear.)

Perhaps noting the change in the national mood, majority senators have issued a statement condemning Kian’s killing and calling for a Senate investigation to “determine the accountability of the PNP in the conduct of the campaign against illegal drugs that may have resulted in unnecessary and unjustified deaths and/or killings.”

Which leads one to remember the last Senate hearings related to the government’s so-called war on drugs, with hundreds of questionable deaths of drug suspects tallied by then, and the chair of the Senate committee on justice and human rights, Sen. Richard Gordon, concluding with a straight face that no extrajudicial killings were happening in the country.

One is moved to wonder: Did that blanket absolution empower the police to commit even more abusive acts? To what degree?

Sen. Ralph Recto wants to take another tack  - to examine the PNP’s record and methods when it presents its budget request for 2018. The PNP is asking for a staggering P900 million to fund “Oplan Double Barrel Reloaded,” its antidrug operations, next year.

Said Recto in a statement: “Before such campaign is reloaded with funds, questions as to how it will be implemented must first be asked by the institution which will approve that request  - Congress.”

The rising public disgust at the PNP’s draconian hand might now force Congress to ask the hard questions, such as: How exactly does the PNP use its vast intelligence funds, given what appears, for instance, to be the sloppy, haphazard work that preceded the bloody raid on Kian’s community? By what mechanism does the police sift rumor from fact - a distinction that has become a matter of life and death for many in these times of official impunity?

As it is, the PNP chief’s belated and belabored explanations on the alleged links of Kian and his family to illegal drugs do the police force no good; at the very least, they render its research suspect and the police as amateurs who appear to be fundamentally untrained in dealing with an allegedly armed 17-year-old drug suspect without the loss of life. Why should the people’s money further fund the PNP’s trigger-happy ways? – Inquirer.net