You might have already heard of what happened to Kian Loyd Delos Santos. On August 16, the 17-year-old student was shot and murdered near his home in Caloocan.
CCTV footage from the Barangay showed two men (later identified as policemen) dragging a body towards the alley where Kian’s body was eventually found. In testimonies from witnesses, Kian was reportedly heard to plead with the police, saying “Tama na po! May test pa ako bukas!”
We remember Kian when we hear about other victims of the government’s deadly war on drugs, including 19-year-old UP student Carl Arnaiz. Today, the body of his friend, 14-year-old Reynaldo De Guzman was found with 30 stab wounds.
This is the reality that we live in today. A reality where going out to buy a snack could lead to death. A reality where students fear the very officers who are supposed to protect them.
The PCIJ Story Project’s newest series takes the children’s book approach to tell Kian’s story. | Art courtesy of The PCIJ Story Project
Last September 4, the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) released a children’s book approach on Kian’s story called Si Kian, and it’s got to be the most impactful that we’ve seen so far.
With words from prize-winning children’s book author Weng Cahiles and watercolor illustrations by Aldy C. Aguirre, this story manages to use simple prose combined with research to effectively put a face behind the statistic. It makes you empathize with victims like Kian, to think: that could have been me. And really, it could’ve been you, or even your brother, your cousin, or your kapitbahay.
Journalist Kimberly dela Cruz did most of the research and reporting, and the narrative is based on interviews and documents that she obtained as she covered Kian’s murder.
Kian’s story is guaranteed to bring feelings of anger, confusion, and sadness. It is one of many stories about the helpless students and children senselessly killed in drug operations.
It’s alarming that we get reports of deaths of minors at the hands of police almost weekly. It’s gotten to a point where drug-related killings are just mere news items to scroll past on our feeds.
This is the reality we live in, but that doesn’t mean we should accept it. Know the names of the victims. Know their faces. Know their stories.
Check out the full series on The PCIJ Story Project’s Facebook and Instagram.