MANILA (Reuters) – Hundreds of neighbors and left-wing activists marched and lit candles near the spot where a 17-year-old high school student was shot dead by police last week in President Rodrigo Duterte’s controversial war on drugs.
Heavy rain did not stop people protesting against the death of Kian Loyd delos Santos, one of more than 90 people gunned down in the capital and two adjacent provinces in the last week.
The 34th anniversary of the assassination of democracy icon Benigno Aquino, the husband of former president Corazon, also turned into a protest against the boy’s death.
“Please be fair,” the student’s father, Zaldy delos Santos, told police. “We are the victims here. We are the ones you should help.”
He made the appeal after authorities went on the offensive to defend the police action on Monday, saying there was information indicating the boy was a drug courier and addict.
But initial forensic evidence showed there was no gunfight and the three bullet wounds indicated the student was shot at close range in the back of the head.
The head of the Public Attorney’s Office, Persida Acosta, told reporters she was recommending murder charges against the officers involved based on the initial autopsy report.
“Murder charges will most likely be filed because of the location of the entry wounds,” Acosta said in a television interview.
Neighbors, teachers and classmates of the boy also vouched for his good character. The education ministry issued a statement condemning the police action.
“I am not tolerating abuses,” national police chief Ronald dela Rosa said, asking for public understanding.
More than 12,500 people, many small-time drug users and dealers, have been killed since Duterte took office in June 2016. Police say about 3,500 of those killed were shot by officers in self-defense.
Human rights monitors believe many of the remaining two thirds were killed by assassins operating with police backing or by police disguised as vigilantes – a charge the police deny.
(Story refiles to show Benigno husband of Corazon in paragraph 3.) [/restrict]