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VP Leni on recent killings: This is not how Filipinos are

Vice President Leni Robredo was guest of honor during the 48th National Convention and 67th Foundation Anniversary of the Occupational Health Nurses Association of the Philippines (OHNAP) at the Manila Hotel in Manila last September 7, 2017. Leni Robredo/Released

MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo on Thursday slammed the recent spate of killings of teenagers in the hands of policemen, saying that the country should put a stop to these deaths.

Citing the cases of Kian Loyd Delos Santos, Carl Arnaiz and Reynaldo De Guzman, Robredo said a society where young people could get killed was unsafe, unjust and unacceptable.

"Ang isang lipunan kung saan ang ating mga anak ay maaaring mawala ng biglaan, at matatagpuan na lamang na tadtad ng saksak, at nakabalot ang ulo ng tape, ay isang lipunang kailanman ay hindi natin dapat tanggapin," Robredo said. "Kailangan nating pagbigkisin ang ating mga boses para tiyaking hindi na ito magpapatuloy at mapanagot ang mga may sala. "

The killings of Delos Santos, Arnaiz and De Guzman have sparked widespread dissent over President Rodrigo Duterte's brutal campaign against illegal drugs which has claimed a mounting number of deaths and left a train of human rights violations.

Although Delos Santos and Arnaiz were killed in police operations, De Guzman — found in Gapan, Nueva Ecija on Wednesday — was found in a creek with his head wrapped in tape. He had been stabbed dozens of times. 

Human rights activists and organizations have claimed that more than 12,000 have died since Duterte launched his campaign last year. Government agencies, including the police, have disputed the figure and claimed that deaths directly related to police operations were much lower at around 3,800. The rest, they said, were still under investigation or were done by assassins, vigilantes or by drug syndicates.

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Robredo said that words were not enough to convey the grief and anger that people should feel about the seemingly unending series of killings which had also claimed the lives of teenagers.

The vice president said: "Hindi natin maaring palagpasin ito. Hindi tayo ganito. Hindi ganito ang Pilipino. Kailangang huminto ang walang pakundangang patayan."

She added, "Nakikiramay ako sa mga magulang at pamilya ng iba pang biktima ng ganitong klaseng karahasan. Kaisa ninyo ako sa paghahanap ng hustisya para sa kanila at sa mas pinaigting na panawagang itigil na ang patayan."

Delos Santos' body was found along a dark alley in a rundown neighborhood in Caloocan City on Aug. 17.

Caloocan cops reasoned that he violently resisted arrest and fired upon them, a claim disputed by witness accounts and a CCTV footage from the local village.

A report by the National Bureau of Investigation said that the police intentionally killed the 17-year-old senior high school student and did not really have a plan to bring him to the police station.

Two days later, Arnaiz was killed after allegedly robbing a cab driver in Caloocan City. Police said that he also offered violent resistance, but an autopsy report by the Public Attorney's Office said that that the 19-year-old former University of the Philippines student may have been tortured before being shot.

There was also no indication that he fired a gun, according to the autopsy.

De Guzman's body, riddled with 30 stab wounds, meanwhile was found floating in a creek in Nueva Ecija. His head was also wrapped with packaging tape and cloth.

READ: What we know so far: Killing of Reynaldo de Guzman, 14

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