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There is no excuse for murder!

By: Atty. Ignacio R. Bunye

The killing of 17-year old Kian de los Santos could have been just another statistic in the alarmingly growing list of casualties in the on-going all-out drug war.

In just two days last week, 57 were killed in separate operations in Bulacan and Metro Manila – a much higher daily casualty rate than in the war against the Maute terrorists in Marawi City.

As in previous cases, Kian was initially reported as having fired at policemen engaged in an anti-drug operation.

This gave the supposed law enforcers no alternative but to fire back, fatally wounding the teenager. A photo of a caliber .45 pistol in Kian’s left hand was Exhibit A in what police termed as a very clear case of “nanlaban”.

But things did not turn out well for three Caloocan City police operatives who were involved in the incident. Two of them got caught on cam dragging away an apparently helpless, defenseless young man away from the scene of the arrest.

And that was the last time, Kian was seen alive.

Kian was right-handed. Two separate medico-legal examinations conducted both by the PNP and the Public Attorney’s Office more or less agreed that Kian had no powder burns. His bullet wounds indicated that Ian was kneeling with his head almost flat on the ground when he was shot. He was shot at close range.

Public outrage over the injustice – even among the supporters of the drug war – was swift and rightly so. Kian was executed. It was murder.

Even at one point in Thursday’s senate hearings, PNP Chief Bato de la Rosa exclaimed: “Nakatalikod at babarilin mo?

Kriminal ka!”

The involved policemen tried – unsuccessfully though – to brand the dead teenager as a drug courier, a charge vehemently denied by Kian’s family, friends and neighbors. But even if true, the allegation was completely irrelevant, as pointed out by Senator Frank Drilon. The point was whether or not the three policemen correctly followed protocol.

The double irony in the case of Kian was that he and his family supported President Duterte, believing that Duterte would end the scourge of drugs. Kian, who dreamed of one day becoming a policeman, died in the hands of policemen.

Thank God for CCTV. At least in Kian’s case, overzealous enforcers – who may have misinterpreted the President’s assurance that no policeman or soldier would go to jail for doing their job – are not about to get away.
Ninoy’s murder

This reminds me of what happened 34 years ago. At that time, news reporting was very much controlled by government.

Unless one was actually at the Manila International Airport, one would not have known what really happened to Ninoy Aquino that fateful day of August 21, 1983.

The official version peddled by the government-controlled media was that Ninoy was shot down by Rolando Galman as Ninoy deplaned from the China Air Line which brought him home via Taipei. Galman, in turn, was gunned down by elements of the Aviation Security Command (AVSECOM).

Nice and neat story. Unfortunately for Ninoy’s executioners, they were also caught on cam.

Foreseeing something untoward would happen, Ninoy invited some journalists, including TV crews, to accompany him on his journey home.

One cameraman documented how AVSECOM soldiers boarded the plane and fetched Ninoy from his seat. As Ninoy and his soldier escorts exited the plane, one of the soldiers blocked the news crew and tried to cover the camera lens with his palm. The plane’s door was immediately closed, preventing newsmen from following Ninoy and his escorts down the ramp.

But the camera kept rolling. Within 7 seconds, the camera clearly picked up the command “Pusila, Pusila”. A couple of seconds later, one shot rang out, immediately followed by a staccato of gunfire.

The next scene showed Ninoy sprawled on the tarmac, blood oozing from his lifeless body. The body of the alleged gunman also lay on the tarmac.

Because of the timing of the first shot, investigators later established that Ninoy was still descending from the plane ramp when he was shot at the back of his head. No way could Rolando Galman, the alleged gunman, have penetrated a supposedly tight security cordon and assassinated Ninoy.

The video clip soon became “viral”. Of course, at that time,, there was no internet. But copies of the video clips were manually reproduced on Betamax tapes and clandestinely circulated in private homes and later, in offices.

I believe that these video clips played a vital role in conscientizing Filipinos, who until then had grown numb of the excesses of martial law. The silent protests in the homes and offices soon spilled into the streets.

It took another three years to end two decades of Marcos rule but the protests in 1983 -sparked by the murder of Ninoy on the tarmac – marked the beginning of the end.

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