Senate urged to probe 'unabated' police killings after minor dies in anti-drug op
In this 2016 photo, crime scene investigators are hunched over the body of Romeo Fontanilla. His killers were two men on a motorbike.
Daniel Berehulak for The New York Times/World Press Photo via AP, File

Senate urged to probe 'unabated' police killings after minor dies in anti-drug op

Bella Perez-Rubio (Philstar.com) - June 19, 2021 - 12:45pm

MANILA, Philippines — (Updated 5:40 p.m.) Sen. Risa Hontiveros on Friday said she will file a resolution calling on the Senate to launch an inquiry into the "unabated" police killings in the country following the death of yet another minor during an anti-drug operation. 

Johndy Maglinte, a 16-year-old boy, and his companion who police say was previously detained on drug charges, were killed in a drug bust in Biñan, Laguna, on Wednesday. 

Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, Philippine National Police chief, confirmed their deaths, adding that the Internal Affairs Service (IAS) is investigating the incident. According to Eleazar, probers have yet to establish if Maglinte was a minor although he was identified in a police report as his companion's assistant.  

READ: At least 122 children killed in government’s drug war — report

Hontiveros, who chairs the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality, called the incident "a serious human rights violation that needs to be investigated." 

"Johndy, at 16, is still a child according to our laws. Anong laban ng isang bata sa isang armadong institusyon? Bakit ba ang lalakas ng loob ng ilan sa mga pulis na mang-api at kumitil ng mga kabataang walang kalaban-laban?" 

(What chance does a child have against an armed institution? Why do some of our police so fearlessly oppress and kill children who are defenseless?)  

The senator also emphasized that Maglinte's death must not be viewed as an isolated incident, citing Kian delos Santos, Carl Arnaiz and Reynaldo de Guzman, all teenagers who were killed during what Caloocan City police called a "One Time, Big Time" operation. 

"These operations have been constantly posing a real danger to our youth: from Kian delos Santos and his companions in 2018, to Johndy in 2021, and to the thousands more young people who died because of police abuse," she said partially in Filipino.

"In the middle of a pandemic, no less, this administration continues to inflict nationwide emotional trauma on Filipinos. This should never be the status quo," Hontiveros added. 

"The relentless carnage and violence are detestable. Every day, we will choose to take steps that will rectify this tremendous injustice towards Filipinos. The day of reckoning is fast approaching." 

De Lima decries 'successive' killing of minors 

Detained Sen. Leila de Lima in a statement released Saturday denounced the "successive" deaths of minors during anti-drug and anti-insurgency operations carried out by security forces. 

“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," De Lima said.

"Nanlaban daw (Authorities said they fought back)." 

In addition to the case of Maglinte, the senator was referring to Erwin Arnigo, an 18-year-old special needs man diagnosed with autism who was killed during a police raid in Valenzuela City, and the deaths of three Lumads, including a 12-year-old student, in Surigao del Sur. 

READ: Witness refutes police claim on scuffle that led to killing of teen with special needs, says city mayor 

Rights group Karapatan accused troops from the 3rd Special Forces Battalion of the Philippine Army of opening fire on Manobo community members Willy Rodriguez, Leni Rivas, and 12-year-old Angel Rivas, while they were on the way to the town center of Lianga after harvesting abaca hemp. 

Karapatan said the three who were killed, three others escaped, were presented as members of the New People’s Army, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines. The 4th Infantry Division, which oversees the 3rd Special Forces Battalion, denied Karapatan’s claim, insisting that the incident was an encounter.

The Commission on Human Rights is conducting independent probes on all three incidents. 

“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,” De Lima said.

“Authorities who made lapses in their operations or participated in varying degrees in the perpetuation of extrajudicial killings should be held accountable. If we just let it go, it is as if we have condoned the abuses and even encouraged the perpetrators of brutal and illegal killings." 

—  with a report from Gaea Katreena Cabico and The STAR 

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