Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II won’t heed the call to remove a Caloocan City prosecutor who was accused of making prejudiced statements against slain Grade 11 student Kian Delos Santos during an anti-illegal drugs operation.
Aguirre was reacting to the call of Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon to remove Caloocan City Prosecutor Darwin Canete from handling the case of Delos Santos for saying that the 17-year-old teen was not totally innocent in the illegal drugs trade.
“I simply cannot order the relief of Prosecutor Darwin Canete from the case Kian De Los Santos. In the first place he is not handling the case. No case has yet been filed,” Aguirre explained in a statement.
“How can I relieve a prosecutor from a case which he is not handling? How can I relieve him from handling a case that has yet to be filed?” he pointed out.
The Secretary said “for cases of death under investigation in Caloocan, he is tasked to gather the relevant factual antecedents of such cases upon the invitation of the police.”
“And that is all that he did in the case of Kian de los Santos’ death,” he said.
Once criminal complaints against policemen involved in the death of Delos Santos are filed, these will be raffled off to prosecutors.
“And Prosecutor Darwin Canete, the one who gathered the facts of such a case, is no longer included in the raffle of the case,” Aguirre assured.
“This exclusion is precisely done to avoid any purported prejudgment from being present in his resolution of the case if the same is raffled to him,” he said.
On the other hand, Aguirre also assured Drilon of the utmost impartiality of the Department of Justice (DOJ) in bringing justice.
“This is also my commitment to all as the people’s steward of the Department of Justice,” said Aguirre.
“This is the reason why I ordered the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) to conduct a parallel investigation in this case,” he added.