Senate takes custody of three witnesses in Kian slay case

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 25) — The Senate on Thursday took custody of the three witnesses in the killing of 17-year-old Kian Loyd Delos Santos.

The witnesses, including a 13-year-old and a 16-year-old, were under the care of Senator Risa Hontiveros prior to the hearing of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Safety into the death of Kian.

The committee chairman Senator Ping Lacson allowed the witnesses be given sanctuary on Senate premises until parental consent for the two minors to testify is obtained before the senate's executive session on Tuesday, August 29, Hontiveros said.

"Ang ibig sabihin po ng sanctuary na 'yan para sa tatlong saksi ay nandirito sila sa premises ng Senado hanggang madinig sila in executive session," Hontiveros said.

[Translation: The sanctuary means that the three witnesses will stay within the Senate premises until the executive session.]

Under Sec. 11 of the Senate rules for inquiries in aid of legislation, the committee may interrogate a witness in a closed-door executive session if "the interrogation of a witness in a public hearing might endanger national security."

Testimony delivered in an executive session may not be made public, unless authorized by the committee.

Hontiveros said the mother of the 13-year-old witness will give her consent for both for her child and the 16-year-old since they are cousins. The mother is an Overseas Filipino Worker based in Oman.

"Iniutos po ni Chairman Lacson na kunin yung authorization na ito in writing sa pamamagitan ng Philippine Embassy in Oman at dun panotaryahan at ipadala dito sa atin para magamit na rin dun sa susunod na pagdinig sa Martes kung kailan ididinig yung mga bata in executive session," Hontiveros said at the Senate inquiry.

[Translation: Chairman Lacson ordered to get the authorization in writing, to be notarized at the Philippine Embassy Oman, and delivered here so we can hear the children in the executive session next Tuesday.]

Kian was a Grade 11 student killed in an anti-illegal drug operation in Caloocan City.

Related: Justice Secretary: Minors killed in drug war ‘collateral damage’

Hontiveros said there now six persons under the Senate's custody as three of the youngest witness's siblings requested to join the child.

"Itutuloy po ng Senado 'yung protective custody sa kanila lalo na't pending yung kanilang testimony," Hontiveros said.

[Translation: The Senate will continue its protective custody for the witnesses, especially because their testimony is still pending.]

At the hearing, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre said the witnesses who are minors, may be "susceptible to suggestions" and should be placed under the Witness Protection Program, to avoid being influenced by other people.