“No other drug killing has captured the attention of the public,” Rappler’s crime reporter Rambo Talabong says. “Kian was a reminder of what could happen to our sons, nephews, brothers and the culture of hate and violence.”
Merely reduced to a lone statistic out of the 5,600 casualties of the drug war as of January 2020, Kian’s case could have silently gone away had it not for the circumstances of his death: a CCTV camera, witnesses and a family eager to earn justice for their slain son despite a notoriously flawed justice system.[READ: Why Kian’s death is a breaking point for Duterte’s drug war]
— Raffy Lerma (@raffylerma) August 16, 2020
Three years after the police shooting that resulted in the death of the then 17-year old boy from Caloocan, Talabong looks back at the facts of the case that captivated the whole nation and eventually led to an unprecedented conviction of three police officers involved more than a year after.
The podcast called “Kriminal,” which premiered Sunday, Aug. 16, is Rappler’s crime podcast. Said first episode on Kian’s life and death runs for a little over 20 mins and is reminiscent of crime podcast that rose in popularity in recent years.
The episode begins with Talabong describing the teenager prior to his death on Aug. 6, 2017 in the hands of Police Officer III (PO3) Arnel Oares, PO1 Jeremias Pereda and PO1 Jerwin Cruz. A resident of Brgy. 160 in Caloocan City, Kian’s days revolved around their store, which he mans during the day while watching YouTube videos of rap battles.
We know the rest of the story because, as Talabong puts it, Kian’s case has become a shorthand for the bloody drug war, a media spectacle partly because of the contradicting “facts” of the case. It was the policemen’s statement versus CCTV footage and testimonies from witnesses.
It is also a commentary on the country’s justice system and how by standards and compared to other cases, Kian’s family’s 15-month search for justice is somehow a “swift” process. In the process, the reportage also refutes the government’s claims that the blood war has a working checks and balance mechanism.
“Paano po kaya kung hindi nanindigan ang pamilya para ipaglaban ang katotohanan? Nasaan na po kaya ang kaso?”
Randy delos Santos, Kian’s uncle says the conviction is hardly a sign of a healthy justice system. “Paano po kaya kung hindi nanindigan ang pamilya para ipaglaban ang katotohanan? Nasaan na po kaya ang kaso?” he said.
We do know that Kian wanted to be a police officer when he grew up. Last May, he would have turned 20. What would have become of Kian had he not succumbed to a gruesome death? His uncle says his nephew had plans including to become a mechanic as a fallback. The teenager could have never thought of becoming a symbol of injustice at the price of his life. Would he still have wanted to be a police officer? Who knows.
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Writer: CHRISTIAN SAN JOSE
ART LEVENSPEIL SANGALANG