Minor witness in Kian’s slay gets Senate protection

MANILA — The mother of one of the minor witnesses to the killing of Kian Delos Santos has allowed the Senate to take custody of her child.

This was revealed by Senator Risa Hontiveros on Friday following reports that the mother of the minor witness, who works as an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) in Oman, accused the senator of not seeking her permission to take her child under her custody.

The witnesses were initially placed under Hontiveros’ custody until she turned them over to the Senate Thursday night (August 24) after its adjournment of the probe into Kian’s killing.

Hontiveros, meanwhile, said that the mother, Maria Teresa Concepcion, has retracted her accusation.

She showed proof that Concepcion has already signed an authorization letter, dated August 24, 6:21 pm, allowing her child to stay under Senate custody.

The senator also allowed Concepcion to speak to the media in a live phone patch from Oman, apologizing to Hontiveros and explaining that she was merely confused and afraid for the safety of her child.

“I hope this settles with finality the issue of custody and stops malevolent forces from muddling this issue in an attempt to prevent the public from seeking the truth and bringing justice for the killing of Kian,” Hontiveros said.

In a separate letter, the minor witness’ guardian, who is also Concepcion’s daughter, composed a handwritten letter, dated August 24, allowing the Senate to take custody of the witness.

“Bilang tumatayong guardian ng dalawa sa mga testigo at ayon na rin po sa kagustuhan ng mga ito, nais po nilang manatili sa pangangalaga nila Sen. Risa Hontiveros sapagkat sila po ay panatag sa kanilang panig (As the guardian of the two witnesses and based on their desire, they request to stay under the custody of Sen. Risa Hontiveros because they feel secured under her care).”

“Ito po’y desisyon ng mga testigo at sumangayon na rin ang aming ina na nasa ibang bansa na kung ano ang magiging desisyon ng mga testigo ay yun po ang masusunod kung saan po sila ay panatag. Maraming salamat po!” the letter read (This is the decision of the witnesses and our mother, who is abroad, has also agreed to go with the decision of the witnesses because this is where they feel secure),” it further said.

Following claims made by Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre III that the witnesses should be under the government’s witness protection program (WPP), Hontiveros reiterated that it was up to the witnesses to decide who they want to take them in custody.

Hontiveros said that she supported the proposal of Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon asking the Department of Justice (DOJ) to let the Office of the Ombudsman investigate Kian’s death to ensure an impartial investigation.

She said that the Ombudsman has the mandate to investigate cases of public officials involved in wrongdoing.

The senator said that her office will be seeking legal ways to make Aguirre inhibit himself from the case. PNA-northboundasia.com