Press Release
July 18, 2019

De Lima: Rising deaths of children in Duterte drug war makes UN probe more urgent

The rising death toll among children in the government's war on drug makes it even more urgent for the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to conduct a thorough probe on the killings, according to Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima.

"Marami nang bata ang nagbuwis ng buhay sa pekeng giyera ni Mr. Duterte kontra droga at patuloy pa itong tumataas kaya lalo't higit nating kailangan ang pagpasok ng UNHRC para silipin ang mga patayang ito," said De Lima.

De Lima made the pronouncement last July 15, exactly one year after the death of four-year-old Skyler Abatayo, who was studying in his room when he was killed by a stray bullet in a buy-bust operation in Cebu City.

Since Abatayo's death, several other children perished in police operations, the latest was three-year-old Myca Ulpina who died in a shootout after she was purportedly used as human shield by her father evading arresting police officers in Rizal last June 30.

According to Human Rights Watch, more than 100 children have died since Mr. Duterte launched his war on drugs campaign in 2016. Either targeted or caught in the crossfire, these slain children have been relegated by the government as "collateral damage."

"Dapat nang magising sa katotohanan ang gobyernong ito na walang patutunguhan ang madugong giyera kontra droga kundi pagdanak ng mas madami pang dugo ng ating mga kabataan at mga walang kalaban-labang Pilipino," said De Lima.

De Lima, a known defender of human rights and social justice, is the staunchest critic of the government's bloody campaign against illegal drugs. Her vocal criticism against the administration's flawed policies has earned her Mr. Duterte's ire.

Recently, the UNHRC adopted a resolution signed by 18 countries, led by Iceland, asking the international rights body to investigate the human rights situation in the Philippines amid the rampant killings in connection with Duterte's war on drugs.

In an earlier statement, De Lima commended the UNHRC for this bold move, which she said will "shrink the space for impunity in the Philippines, and to widen the windows of justice for the victims of mass murder and other abuses against our people."

Currently detained on trumped-up charges for her vocal stand against the government's human rights violations, De Lima has repeatedly urged the UNHRC to conduct an independent probe to put a stop to the so-called Duterte's "killing machine."

This 18th Congress, De Lima has introduced an Anti-EJK Bill which formalizes the definition of an extrajudicial killing, seeks to hold accountable perpetrators thereof, and strengthens mechanisms and relevant institutions to address the prevalence of EJKs and fight impunity.

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