Justice for Kian: Tokhang and a Nation of Grieving Parents

Mykel Andrada

By: Mykel Andrada | Squeeze News | Published August 18, 2017 | Updated August 18, 2017


The brutal killing of 17-year old Kian Loyd D. Delos Santos, a Grade 11 student, punctuated what has been this week’s spate of extrajudicial killings under President Rodrigo Duterte’s “false patriotic” war against illegal drugs.

This was underscored by groups led by Rise Up for Life and for Rights (RISE UP) and KARAPATAN during a protest action last August 18, 2017 at the Boy Scout Circle in Quezon City.


Kian was killed by police elements in Barangay 160, Caloocan City last August 16, 2017. Footages from the barangay’s CCTV and testimonies from witnesses have belied the Caloocan police’s claims that Kian resisted arrest and fired at the police, which resulted in the police killing Kian. Witnesses said that Kian was clearly framed up by police forces: he was accosted by non-uniformed policemen, given a gun, ordered to fire, then was killed and planted with illegal drugs by the police.

In a statement, KARAPATAN said that the killing of Kian by state forces is “yet another proof that shows how those in power – with guns and the capacity to distort the truth with planted evidence and a staged crime scene – completely disregard the right to life of the poor, in the course of and fully emboldened by Pres. Duterte’s war on drugs.”

Kian was among this week’s around 60 victims of drug-related extrajudicial killings under legitimate police operations like Oplan Galugad in Caloocan City. “They are not victims of rogue cops. They are victims of a State-sponsored campaign against the poor,” exclaimed KARAPATAN.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) intensified its war against drugs via Oplan Tokhang’s Phase 2, or Double Barrel Reloaded, which PNP Chief Police Director General Ronald “Bato” M. Dela Rosa defined as a “more extensive, aggressive and well-coordinated” war on drugs.


With Duterte praising the killings of tokhang victims via legitimate police operations, and with Duterte pushing police and state forces to kill drug suspects daily, as if proposing or imposing a quota, it is no wonder that critics of tokhang have touted the Philippines as a “nation of orphans and grieving parents.”

Rights group Hustisya has aptly used this metaphor to describe the madness of unabated drug-related killings and murders, causing not only fear but grieving orphans and parents.

“We call on the people not to fear to call to stop the killings. Let us hear the cries of the children, the parents who bury their children. The everyday murders have silenced thousands. Is it the objective of the PNP to get rid of the drug problem? No. The Duterte regime, with the PNP as butchers, has employed a fascist path to facing the drug problem. Is this what we want? Definitely not. This has to stop,” said Hustisya Chairperson Evangeline Hernandez.


The killing of Kian has left grieving and seeking justice not only his father, a vendor, and his mother, an overseas Filipina worker, but also his girlfriend, friends and classmates, and hundreds of orphans and families who similarly experienced the onslaught of Duterte’s tokhang.

In a statement, RISE UP said that vigilance, not fear, is the onset of justice: “Families of drug-related killings know all-to-well the terror of Duterte’s drug war. Having lost loved ones to Operation Double Barrel/Tokhang, their feelings are still raw and painful. Still many are rising up to become advocates themselves to denounce Duterte’s bloody war on drugs.”

Despite reports that Caloocan policemen involved in the killing of Kian were relieved of their posts, the family of Kian and concerned rights groups remain vigilant in seeking justice for the victim. Student and youth groups held a “Black Friday” protest last August 18, 2017 to seek justice for Kian and to call to an end to the killings.

Photo from Justice for Kian Loyd Delos Santos Facebook Page.

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