Duterte urged to end the killings

This article is more than 12 months old

Cover-up in death of 17-year-old boy sparks outrage

MANILA: Politicians yesterday urged Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to end a culture of impunity and quell a surge in drug-related killings, amid widespread anger at police over the death of a teenager.

Allegations of a cover-up in last week's death of Kian Loyd delos Santos, 17, has caused outrage among a public largely supportive of Mr Duterte's campaign, which saw more than 90 killed last week in three nights of intensified police operations.

The student was killed in a rundown area of Manila and according to a forensic expert who conducted an autopsy, Kian was shot in the back of the head and ears while on the floor, suggesting there was no gunfight, contrary to the police report.

His family reject police allegations he was a drug courier.

Mr Duterte has defended police on the front lines of his war on drugs, but late on Monday said the officers involved in Kian's killing should be punished if found to have broken the law.

Mr Duterte said he had seen the security footage acquired by media, which showed plainclothes police dragging a man matching the description of Kian to the location where he was found dead.

Opposition Senator Leila de Lima, a detained critic of Mr Duterte, challenged him to order the police to stop killing.

"I dare you, Mr President, to issue a clear and categorical order to the entire police force to stop the killings now," De Lima said in a handwritten note from a detention facility, where she is being held on charges of involvement in drugs trade inside jails, which she denies.

"Just say it. Do it now, please."

Senator Risa Hontiveros, told the House that Mr Duterte had blood on his hands and "revelled in the deaths of drug addicts", inspiring a culture of impunity and killing.

Senator Paulo Benigno Aquino said Mr Duterte should strengthen the judiciary, education, and rehabilitation instead.

"There has to be other solutions to our drug menace."

Netizens, politicians of all sides and Catholic bishops have called for an impartial investigation into the surge in killings by police, which stopped when news of Kian's death surfaced. The Senate will hold an inquiry into the bloodshed tomorrow.

Since Mr Duterte took office, more than 3,500 people have been killed in what the Philippine National Police said were gunfights with drug suspects, and 2,000 more have been killed in other drug-related violence.

Human rights advocates have said the death toll could be far higher. - REUTERS