Senator Leila M. de Lima has challenged President Duterte to step down from office if he cannot protect ordinary Filipino families against the rash of extrajudicial killings that have recently hit the country. De Lima, a known human rights defender, issued the challenge as she condemned the recent brazen killings of young students, the latest of whom include 14-year-old student Reynaldo de Guzman who was found dead with 30 stab wounds in Nueva Ecija.
“Amidst the killing spree of minors, I challenge the President once again to give a direct, categorical and public order to the entire police force, and others acting upon its direction, to stop the killings now! Otherwise, I dare him to resign now!” she said in a Dispatch from Crame No. 154.
With the growing public outrage sparked by the deaths of 17-year-old student Kian Loyd de los Santos and 19-year-old Carl Angelo Arnaiz in the hands of Caloocan City police, the authorities are in hot water anew with the reported summary execution of De Guzman also by the Caloocan cops.
Based on news reports, after going missing for 20 days, the body of De Guzman, who is a resident of Cainta, Rizal, was found floating in a creek in Bgy. San Roque, Gapan, Nueva Ecija with 30 stab wounds while his head was wrapped in packing tape.
De Guzman, also known to many as “Kulot,” was last seen with Arnaiz, who reportedly died in a shootout with arresting officers. The two boys went missing last Aug. 17 when they left their homes in Cainta, Rizal to buy midnight snacks.
When Duterte assumed presidency in July 2016 with a promise to eradicate crime by killing criminals, several minors have been literally caught in the barrage. To date, 56 children have died by vigilante-style executions, according to Children’s Legal Rights and Development Center.
De Lima, a former chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights, lamented how the government, which is expected to be protectors of its people, has turned into tormentors and terminators of the youth.
“Under a civilized and modern society, States are supposed to protect the rights and welfare of the youth and keep them safe from harm. But under the Duterte regime, they are slaughtered like wild animals in a hunting game,” she said.
“To all those who are directly involved in, and those who sanction, these barbaric and satanic acts, may you all burn in hell,” she added.
Under the Philippine law, children are protected from any forms of abuses and violence. Philippines is signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), and the Philippine Congress has passed into law Republic Act No. 7610, “Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act”, and Republic Act No. 9344 or the “Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006”.
Under Article 6 of the UNRC, the State Parties, like the Philippines, recognizes that every child has the inherent right to life, thus requiring the government to undertake measures to provide protection against factors that threaten it.
The Senator from Bicol also asked her countrymen to stop turning a blind eye into the relentless abuses happening under the Duterte regime.
“Sa aking mga kababayan — hinding hindi ho dapat tayo sumasang-ayon sa kasamaan. Ano na ho ba ang nangyayari sa atin bilang isang lahi mula nang naluklok sa pambansang kapangyarihan si Duterte. Enough with this madness! No more Kian, Gelo and Kulot need to die. Let us act now!” she said.
The President, who has unfailingly backed police-led killings, vowed to continue his deadly war on drugs that already killed an estimate of 12,000 people, up to the last day of his term in 2022.
Touted as a “Prisoner of Conscience,” De Lima is among the few senators who dared to oppose and criticize the President’s all-out war on drugs, eventually leading to her detention.