Rights group: Children were also targets in the war vs drugs
Under the government’s campaign against illegal drugs, children not just turned victims, they also became targets.
This is the belief of Children’s Legal Rights and Development Center (CLRDC) executive director Rowena Legaspi, who noted that not even children were spared in the deadly crackdown that has claimed the lives of thousands of suspected drug criminals.
“With the war on drugs now, children died together with the due process. Hindi na lang sila basta naakusahan lang kung hindi, they are also targets not just collateral damage,” (They are not just accused but they are also targets not just collateral damage) Legaspi said at the “War on Drugs: Looking Behind the Numbers” forum on Thursday in Quezon City.
Legaspi said at least 54 children were killed in police operations and by vigilante squads from July 2016 to August 2017.
CLRDC data showed that 37 of the fatalities were males and 17 were females.
Legaspi added that the number of recorded deaths may not be reflective of the actual number as it could be much higher in reality.
One of these victims was Kian Delos Santos, the 16-year-old boy who was killed in an alleged police operation in Caloocan City. His death has sparked public outrage and has put the spotlight on the government’s anti-illegal drug crackdown.
CLRDC, which has conducted its own field investigations and interviews with families, also noted starkly different accounts of the victims and the police.
“Pwede kasing iba yung narrative na lagi nating nakikita, but we have to double check kasi kawawa talaga yung mga families, pinatay na nga yung pamilya nila, hindi pa totoo yung pinalabas sa [media],” she said.
(The narrative that we usually see could be different, but we have to double check because the families’ dire situation—they already lost a loved one then the report was really different in the media.)
The climate of fear, the group said, also contributed in the erroneous reporting. Legaspi noted that many families have taken several months to disclose how the children really died.
Legaspi called on the media and human rights advocates not to isolate the issue of children’s rights from the human rights discourse as a whole.
“These are children with different backgrounds, they have dreams that are suddenly taken away by a bullet,” she said.
Legaspi also called on concerned government agencies and non-government organizations to provide interventions to families, especially psychosocial services, and help them deal with the traumatic loss of their loved ones. /muf
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