No pardon for three cops convicted of drugs war murder: Duterte

Activists raise their fists as they hold a picture of murdered 17-year-old student Kian Loyd delos Santos in Caloocan, metropolitan Manila, Philippines on Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018. (AP)
Updated 29 November 2018
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No pardon for three cops convicted of drugs war murder: Duterte

  • 3 policemen found guilty of killing a high-school student in 2017
  • It is the first conviction in Duterte administration’s war on drugs

MANILA: It was the first conviction in the Duterte administration’s war on drugs.
The Caloocan City regional trial court branch 125 found police officers Arnel Oares, Jeremias Pereda and Jerwin Cruz guilty of killing 17-year-old Kian Delos Santos during an anti-drug operation August last year in a northern suburb in the capital Manila. They were sentenced to reclusion perpetua, equivalent to 20 to 40 years in prison.
In a press briefing in Malacanang, Duterte’s spokesperson, Salvador Panelo, hailed the court decision, which he called a “triumph of justice” in the country.
“It shows that this country has a robust judicial system,” Panelo said. He also said that the recent development proves the administration’s commitment to go after policemen who abuse their authority and violate the law, an assurance which the president himself made when he first declared his war on drugs.
Panelo said that in Duterte’s first State of the Nation Address when he declared war on drugs, the president made it clear “that those who will abuse their authority will have hell to pay.”
“And in this particular case of Kian, if you’ll recall, it was the president who ordered immediately the relief, the arrest, and the detention of the policemen involved immediately after he viewed the video showing that obviously there was salvage in that incident,” said Panelo, who is also Duterte’s chief legal counsel.
Asked whether the president would be inclined to grant a pardon to the three policemen, Panelo said it would be unlikely.
“You must remember that this is murder. There is intention to kill ... We give the assurance that the president will never tolerate any intentional killings against civilians by the men in uniform,” Panelo said.
“What he said was if you (policemen) do it in accordance with your job in the performance of your duty then I will help you, not when you violate that law,” he said.
Panelo said that the conviction of the three policemen was testament to the fact that the country had a working judicial system, as opposed to the claims of critics that the Duterte administration has no capacity to bring criminals to justice.
He also lauded the government’s prosecution team for the speedy resolution of the case.
“This is a six-month trial. And this is a record in heinous crimes like the case of Kian. It took them only six months to finish the case,” Panelo said.
Meanwhile, Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Director General Oscar Albayalde said that the Delos Santos case served as a reminder for the rest of PNP personnel to be extra diligent in fulfilling the requirements of the law as they serve and protect the citizenry.
“But this will not cause us to waiver a bit in our resolve to rid this society of the menace of illegal drugs,” Albayalde said, adding that the PNP respects the court’s decision.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Ano said that the conviction of the officers involved in the Delos Santos case should serve as a warning to policemen “to be worthy of their badges and always uphold the law as they perform their duties.”
Human rights groups welcomed the court decision, but at the same time called on the government to step up its efforts in delivering justice for all victims of extrajudicial killings (EJKs) in the country.
“We welcome the trial court’s conviction of Kian’s killers and thank all those who assisted in securing justice in this case — particularly the courageous eye witnesses, the church workers, and human rights defenders who offered sanctuary, and the investigators and prosecutors who performed their duty,” said Jose Luis Martin Gascon, chairperson of the Philippines Commission on Human Rights (CHR).
“We call on the government to step up their efforts in delivering justice for all victims of EJKs by ensuring that all perpetrators are apprehended and charged,” he said.
An international rights watchdog also lauded the court decision but expressed concern that the police officers might get a presidential pardon.
“The court’s verdict today finding three police officers guilty in the August 2017 murder of 17-year-old Kian Delos Santos is particularly important because it is the first conviction of state agents implicated in a 'drug war' killing. This is a triumph of justice and accountability and a warning to members of the Philippine National Police to respect due process and the rights of civilians as they do their job,” said Brad Adams, Asia director, Human Rights Watch (HRW).
“But at the same time that we are heartened by this, we are also wary because Duterte has promised to pardon police officers convicted in the 'drug war' killings. There is reason to suspect that he will keep that promise. This is why it remains important that the government create an independent commission to investigate these killings,” he said.
The HRW noted that Duterte’s brutal drug war has not spared children, many of them dying at the hands of police during anti-drug operations. “They were either targeted or were simply caught in the cross-fire as police officers raided homes and communities. Most of these killings have not been investigated by the authorities,” Adams said.
“The police said that it has killed 5,000 during its anti-drug operations — that’s a lot of deaths that need to be thoroughly and independently investigated. This also underscores the need for the International Criminal Court to take further action on the complaints against Duterte,” he said.


Sri Lankan police hold alleged trainer of suicide bombers

Updated 5 min 24 sec ago
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Sri Lankan police hold alleged trainer of suicide bombers

  • Arrested Egyptian national living in Sri Lanka illegally for four years, police say
  • Eight countries promise help to combat terror, says leader

COLOMBO: An Egyptian man arrested north of the Sri Lankan capital Colombo on Wednesday is alleged to have trained suicide bombers who carried out the Easter Sunday attacks on the island, investigators said. 
 
The 44-year-old Egyptian national was arrested in Madampe, a coastal town 40 km north of Colombo, following a tip-off.
 
Ruwan Gunasekera, a Colombo police spokesman, said that the man had been living illegally on the island without a passport or valid visa for more than four years.
 
Police are investigating whether the suspect trained the suicide bombers responsible for a wave of attacks on hotels and churches on the island that left more than 350 people dead and hundreds injured.
 
Eight of the nine suicide bombers have been identified by police, the spokesman said.
 
The names of the attackers were withheld because of security concerns. However, Arab News learned that among the nine were Mohammed Insaf and Mohammed Azaam Mohammed Mubarak, who struck the Shangri La Hotel.

State Minister of Defense Ruwan Wijewardene said that most of the suicide bombers were well educated and hailed from upper middle-class families. One of the bombers had studied in the UK and did his doctorate in Australia, he added.
 
Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Niluka Kudirgamuwa told Arab News on Wednesday that the bodies of 13 of the 36 foreigners killed in the bomb blasts have been repatriated. Fourteen foreign tourists are still missing.
 
Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena told foreign ambassadors on Tuesday that eight countries, including the US and Germany, have pledged technological and intelligence assistance to combat terror on the island.
 
He appealed to other countries to cooperate “in this fight against the menace of terrorism.”
 
The Sri Lankan leader said that law enforcement agencies had acted swiftly to identify and arrest those responsible for acts of terrorism.
 
Envoys who offered help included representatives of the UN and EU, and ambassadors of Germany, the US, Denmark, Norway and Pakistan.
 
Sirisena said that intelligence gained during the 30-year civil war on the island will be used in the fight against terrorism following the introduction of emergency powers.
 
A block on social media will be lifted by Thursday, he said. 
Meanwhile, Archbishop Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith told Muslim foreign ambassadors and high commissioners who visited him to offer their condolences on Wednesday, that Muslims have successfully coexisted with other communities in the island for centuries.

Turkish Ambassador Tunca Ozcuhadar said the attack is neither communal nor political but was carried out by a group of misled youths who may have had some links with some extremist groups.