Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has denounced the reported killings of young individuals slain amid the Duterte regime’s crackdown on illegal drugs and anti-insurgency campaign, particularly the recent death of minors during the operations of police and military in Laguna and Surigao del Sur, respectively.
De Lima, a staunch human rights defender, called for an urgent and serious investigation into the successive reports of killings of children by authorities, including the death of 16-year-old Jhondy Maglinte Helis and 12-year-old Angel Rivas and their companions in separate operations by the authorities recently.
“Last month, it was an 18-year old with autism. On Tuesday, a 12-year old Lumad was killed in an alleged indiscriminate firing by the military. On Wednesday, a 16-year-old boy was killed in a police operation. Nanlaban daw,” she said.
“There should be prompt and effective investigations of these EJKs of our children, and perpetrators should be held accountable. Tama na ang kultura ng patayan at impunidad!” she added.
According to rights group Karapatan, three people from the Lumad-Manobo tribe namely Willy Rodriguez, Lenie Rivas, and 12-year-old Rivas were harvesting abaca when forces of the 3rd Special Forces Battalion of the Philippine Army opened fire on the victims in Lianga Town last June 15.
The 4th Infantry Division, which oversees the 3rd Special Forces Battalion, denied Karapatan’s claim, insisting that the incident was an encounter.
Meanwhile, according to reports, police claimed that Helis and his companion, Antonio Castillo Dalit, who is among the most wanted persons in Laguna, were killed when they shot it out with policemen who were serving an arrest warrant against Dalit for alleged violation of Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
Helis’ family, however, denied the police’s claim that he fought it out with the policemen who were serving an arrest warrant, with Helis’ aunt, Nylla Maglinte, saying that the minor was handcuffed and begged the police not to kill him prior to his death.
De Lima pointed out that serious investigation about these incidents is necessary to find out the truth behind the recent deaths during police and military operations and ensure accountability.
“These killings of young individuals are another proof of failure of the State to protect children, youth, including indigenous peoples from summary execution and extrajudicial killings,” she said.
“Authorities who made lapses in their operations or participated in varying degrees in the perpetuation of extrajudicial killings should be held accountable. Kapag hinayaan lang ito, parang kinunsinte na rin natin ang mga pang-aabuso at pinalakas pa ang loob ng mga gumagawa ng brutal at ilegal na pagpatay ,” she added.
Last May, De Lima also called for a swift and thorough investigation into the killing of an 18-year-old man with autism by the police officer in Valenzuela City. (30)