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Palace says rallies vs Kian’s death welcome

By: Genalyn D. Kabiling

Malacañang is unperturbed by the protest actions condemning the death of 17-year-old Grade 11 student Kian delos Santos in the government’s anti-drug crackdown last week in Caloocan City, believing that any criticism is part of the territory.

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella affirmed that groups are free to hold protest as long as they do not cause trouble.

“The rally for Kian is part of the people’s right to assemble, express their views, and air their grievances,” he said.

“The President has said time and again that he will allow mass protest as long as it does not cause public inconvenience or compromise public safety. This is consistent with PRRD’s philosophy that criticism – good or bad – is part of the territory of anyone working in the government,” he added.

Abella assured that the police would apply maximum tolerance toward the protesters.

“Having said this, we enjoin protesters to fully cooperate with police authorities who are expected to exercise maximum tolerance during the event,” he said.

Delos Santos was among the dozens of people shot dead during massive anti-drug operations conducted by the police last week. His death has sparked mounting public outrage over the alleged summary killings under Duterte’s brutal drug war, prompting calls for an investigation.

Malacañang had earlier said Delos Santos’ death was an isolated incident but later conceded it was “one death too many.” The death of Delos Santos is now under investigation and the Palace has assured any police abuse would not be tolerated.

“This deeply regrettable incident has triggered deep public sentiment, and challenges those in law enforcement to be wary of the reckless exercise of power and authority,” Abella said.

“Having said this, the President, who continues to vigorously pursue the dismantling of drug apparatus, ensures that erring enforcers will be properly investigated,” he said.