By Kristine Joy V. Patag

THE DEPARTMENT of Justice (DoJ) has created a three-man panel of state prosecutors to conduct the preliminary investigation on the complaints filed against four Caloocan City cops involved in the Aug. 16 shooting of 17-year-old Kian Loyd Delos Santos.

The three assigned by Officer-in-Charge Prosecutor General Severino H. Gaña, Jr. are: Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Tofel G. Austria, Assistant State Prosecutor Amanda L. Garcia, and Associate Prosecution Attorney Moises Cayan.

The three cops who have all been relieved from duty — Police Officer 3 (PO3) Arnel Oares, PO1 Jerwin Cruz, and PO1 Jeremias Pereda — along with Caloocan City Chief Inspector Amor Cerillo are facing murder and torture complaints filed by the parents of the slain teenager.

Mr. Delos Santos was killed in the course of an anti-drug campaign in Caloocan City. CCTV footage showed him being accosted by the policemen toward a street corner where he was later shot dead.

The DoJ, meanwhile, has extended provisional government protection to the victim’s parents, Saldy F. delos Santos and Lorenza D. delos Santos.

In a statement, Justice Secretary Vitaliano N. Aguirre II said that “they voluntarily went to us at the DoJ to apply for admission to the [Witness Protection Program]. And we immediately accommodated them.”

Meanwhile, the Caloocan prosecutor who recently came under fire for his supposed “prejudice” against slain teenager Kian has been transferred to the Mandaluyong prosecutor’s office.

In an order dated Aug. 29, Mr. Aguirre directed the re-assignment of Senior Assistant City State Prosecutor Darwin G. Cañete to the Office of the Prosecutor in Mandaluyong City.

Mr. Cañete, a vocal supporter of President Rodrigo R. Duterte, recently hugged headlines as his statements posted on his social media page last June 13 caught public attention. He wrote: “YELLOWs are EVIL. You don’t talk to them, YOU KILL THEM. After you kill one, you find another to DESTROY. Like COCKROACHES.”

Asked for the reason of the re-assignment order, Mr. Aguirre said that he has received reports that Mr. Cañete is receiving threats to his life.

In a related development, the Liberal Party (LP) of the Philippines, which is associated with the color yellow, has issued a statement “strongly denying” allegations that its members attempted to bribe the parents of Mr. Delos Santos.

“The party has not made any contact with Mr. and Mrs. Delos Santos outside of commiserating with them at Kian’s wake and funeral, the LP said.

The group also hit Mr. Aguirre, saying that “it was not the first time that [Mr. Aguirre] lied about the LP.”

Sought for clarification, the justice said in a message: “I was asked by Mr. Jojo Robles during a radio interview if I knew anything about the P2 million offered to the parents of Kian. I replied that I also heard something about it but I did not mention any amount.”

A search on the micro-site Twitter relating to Mr. Aguirre and the alleged bribe directs to several fake news sites and