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Senate to govt: Stop ‘senseless killings,’ protect the youth

SIXTEEN of 23 senators called on the government Tuesday to “stop the senseless killings” in its anti-drug war, particularly of children and minors.

The 16, including 10 from the majority, signed the resolution that also called for an inquiry in aid of legislation to determine the institutional reasons, if any, that give rise to such killings.

It is the state’s duty to ensure that children are protected and that their rights are respected, the resolution said.

Based on data from the Children’s Legal Rights and Development Center, at least 54 minors have been killed in police operations or vigilante-style killings since July 2016, the first month of the Duterte administration, the resolution said. It said in many cases, the targets were not the children but the adults they were with.

The resolution also cited the recent deaths of Kian Lloyd delos Santos, 17, and Carl Angelo Arnaiz, 19, who died at the hands of the police, who said they resisted arrest and fired at them first.

The resoluton also cited the case of Reynaldo de Guzman, 14, who was found dead in a creek in Nueva Ecija with 30 stab wounds.

The resolution was signed by Senators Francis Pangilinan, Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, Joel Villanueva, Risa Hontiveros, Ralph Recto, Franklin Drilon, JV Ejercito, Antonio Trillanes IV, Sherwin Gatchalian, Panfilo Lacson, Grace Poe, Nancy Binay, Francis Escudero, Sonny Angara, Loren Legarda and Leila de Lima.

Commission on Human Rights chief Jose Luis Martin “Chito” Gascon
The senators who did not sign the resolution are Senate President Aquilino Pimentel, Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, Senators Richard Gordon, Cynthia Villar, Juan Miguel Zubiri, Gregorio Honasan, and Manny Pacquiao.

A group led by lawyer Evalyn Ursua, meanwhile, urged the Supreme Court to compel the concerned government agency to thoroughly investigate “each and every” killing related to its war on drgus.

The other petitioners include Anna May Baquirin, Mary Jane Real, Maria Lulu Reyes and Joan Dympna Saniel.

Named respondents in the petition were Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II and Commission on Human Rights Chairman Chito Gascon.

Invoking the Court’s landmark decision on the Manila Bay Cleanup case in 2008, the petitioners said the Court should order the government to impose proactive and institutional measures to prevent extrajudicial killings.

The petitioners also wanted the high court to require the Duterte administration to observe utmost transparency in its investigation by regularly making public the results and status of its actions on the deaths resulting from police operations and vigilante killings, which had reportedly reached nearly 14,000.

“What is at stake here is the right to life, the most fundamental of all human rights, whose protection should not be rendered naught by ‘administrative inaction or indifference,’” the group said.

“In the context of the ongoing government campaign against illegal drugs, the state’s positive obligation to protect the right to life requires… adequate and effective measures to ensure that no arbitrary deprivation of life happens in the course of any police or law enforcement operation,” they said.

Also on Tuesday, CHR’s Gascon said the Duterte administration has already turned down several human rights proposals during a recent United Nations dialogue in Geneva, Switzerland.

In an ANC Early Edition television interview, Gascon said the government seemed to be “in denial” of the real situation of human rights in the Philippines when it rejected some recommendations submitted by different countries to improve the promotion of human rights.

Among the proposals was the call for independent probe and an end to impunity.

“[The] Philippine government would outrightly reject these essentially because the theory they propounded was that they got it wrong, that there are no extrajudicial killings,” Gascon said.

Out of the 257 recommendations, the Philippine government accepted 103, noted 99 and rejected 55 others, he said. 

“I don’t understand why the secretary of Foreign Affairs and the government as a whole views this as a victory,” he told the TV interview.

“What it actually manifests in an international forum is that the Philippines is still in denial and is not prepared to accept its responsibilities on all aspects of human rights.”

Despite the Philippines’ recognition of the 103 UN proposals, which can be considered “very important steps,” he said, the government did not take into consideration hard issues.

Gascon said the administration was “engaged in double-speak,” citing the manifestation of President Rodrigo Duterte to invite the UN to establish satellite offices so it could closely monitor police operations on his war on drugs, while government officials opposed the entry of special rapporteurs.

Topics: Senators , Government , “stop the senseless killings” , War on drugs , Minors , Duterte administration , Jose Luis Martin “Chito” Gascon , Children’s Legal Rights and Development Center
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