JUSTICE Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Wednesday said before a House budget hearing that the death of 17-year-old Kian Loyd delos Santos during a police operation was “blown out of proportion” by the media.
“You’d think it’s a huge issue (when) he (delos Santos) is just one of the thousands of (victims) of police abuses if there are really such abuses,” Aguirre told lawmakers in defending the Department of Justice’s (DoJ) P17.8 billion budget under the 2018 P3.767 trillion General Appropriations Bill (GAB) before the House committee on appropriations chaired by Davao City Rep. Karlo Nograles.
Aguirre was responding to the question of Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, a stalwart of the Magnificent 7 or the so-called House genuine opposition, who raised the need to create an independent commission to investigate the summary executions committed under the war on drugs of President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte.
Citing thousands of killings relative to “legitimate” operations, Aguirre said it now appears that delos Santos’ case “was the only exception to the rule” and stressed there was no need for the creation of an independent commission to investigate the drug-related killings.
The statement of Aguirre earned the ire of Kabataan party-list Rep. Sarah Elago who called the statement unacceptable but Aguirre insisted that having “collateral damage” is unavoidable.
“I’m sorry to state –it’s really collateral damage. It could be an adult or a child but that happens in a wide-ranging campaign against illegal drugs,” said Aguirre.
Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) party-list Rep. Antonio Tiñio shot back at Aguirre and asked him what he did as an enforcer of the law under the Executive.
“You are the ones who have that primary duty. You are being paid by the people to deliver justice to crime victims. So you should be the one to answer and don’t stop turning the tables on us!” said Tiñio.