Resist ‘nanlaban’ narrative to defend drug war death toll -De Lima

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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has chided the administration’s dismal failure to account for the rising death toll under its war on drugs that left many Filipino children orphaned and struggling this Yuletide season.

De Lima urged the government to look closely on the case of an 11-year-old girl who was orphaned after her mother fell victim to another case of extrajudicial killings in the Duterte administration’s all-out war on drugs.

She noted that the girl, identified only as Mary Ann, had to beg to commuters and bystanders in order to save for her mother’s funeral. Her father died during the early days of the government’s war on drugs.

“My heart breaks when I read on the newspaper last Wed. (Dec. 19) about the story of Mary Ann, an 11-year-old orphan who needs to beg and sing Christmas carols so that she can save for the funeral of her mother who died last Dec. 16,” she said in her recent Dispatch from Crame No. 438.

“Mary Ann and her mother, Heart, (the names that media gave them) are among the countless families whose lives are senselessly lost in the most murderous government campaign against illegal drugs. Their dream of a happy life has escaped them now,” she added.

Considering this appalling situation, De Lima said she cannot allow Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo to defend the administration’s murderous war on drugs with a “nanlaban” narrative.

“I cannot allow Panelo to continue to poison the public’s mind with the Duterte administration’s oft-repeated but flawed proposition that the increasing number of deaths due to the crackdown on drugs was because suspected drug offenders have all resisted police arrest with violence.”

Panelo recently claimed that “the number of deaths occurring in drug-related cases would depend on the circumstances surrounding the arrest during buy-bust operations.”

Since Mr. Duterte assumed the presidency, more than 23,000 people have been killed either through vigilante-style executions or “legitimized” police operations.

However, from July 1, 2016 to Nov. 30, 2018, official figures registered only 5,050 suspected drug offenders who Panelo dismissed as those who have resisted police arrest and supposedly resulted to their deaths.

The lady Senator from Bicol lamented that these stark statistics only show the police force’s low regard to human rights while the suffering of the families of the EJK victims remain immeasurable.

“Forget about the right of any individuals, including suspected offenders, to basic presumption of innocence until proven guilty. Forget about their right to due process itself enshrined under our Constitution. That is how our policemen think,” she said.

Amid all the killings, De Lima urged her colleagues and fellow human rights advocates to continue making the Duterte administration accountable for the thousands of victims of extrajudicial killings and urge it to recognize the immense damages wrought by its war on drugs on Filipino families.

“This murderous war on drugs must end, and we should not relent on our efforts until the death toll stops and those responsible are made accountable before the bar of justice,” she said.

Known as the staunchest critic of the administration’s war on drugs, De Lima filed as early as 2016 Senate Resolution No. (SRN) 9 seeking for a Senate inquiry into the rampant extrajudicial killings and summary executions of suspected drug offenders in the country.

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