Children are paying the price for flawed war on drugs – De Lima

Senator Leila M. de Lima has grown more worried about the worsening conditions of Filipino children who have been left orphaned, if not lifeless, since the Duterte administration launched his administration's all-out war on drugs last year.

In a message read by her brother, Vicente de Lima, during the "Dinner/Dance for a Cause" last Friday, De Lima said the youth, who are paying the price for government's anti-drugs campaign, should be spared from any sightings or experiences of violence.

"Sa pinaiiral na karahasan ng gobyernong utak-pulbura at makitid ang pag-iisip, higit kaninuman, ang mga bata ang pinaka-biktima--mga batang naulila ng mga pinaslang na magulang, mga batang natigil sa pag-aaral dahil sa kaguluhan, mga batang lumalaki sa kultura ng kawalan ng pananagutan," she said.

Of the estimated 12,000 people killed in war on drugs, De Lima noted the innocent children who have lost their lives and are now relegated by the present government as mere "collateral damage."

Among these slain children include seven-year-old SaniAo Butucan of Cebu, five-year-old Danica May Garcia of Pangasinan and Francisco Manosca of Pasay City, and four-year-old Althea Fhem Barbon of Negros Oriental.

With this disturbing death count, the former chairperson of Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has called out to the public anew to stand up against the killings in Duterte's war on drugs to give every Filipino kid a better future.

'"Gaya ng kasabihan: 'Minsan lang sila bata.' Sa 'minsan' na ito, hahayaan ba natin ang mga bata ngayon, na mamuhay sa isang mapanganib na bansa--na parang normal na lang ang pagmumura, ang pagkakalat ng kasinungalingan, ang makakita ng walang tigil na karahasan, na okay lang ang mga patayan? Sa ganitong klase ng lipunan, anong pipigil sa ating kabataan para maging marahas din sa kanilang paglaki at idaan ang lahat sa paghihiganti?" she asked.

The "Dinner/Dance for a Cause" was organized by online advocacy groups aimed at raising funds to support tasks and undertakings of Filipinos in need of aid, most especially among the children who have lost their loved ones in the war on drugs.

It was organized by member-groups of Coalition DAMPI (Democratic Alliance Movement of the Philippines-International) including Edsa30 Pagkakaisa, FABS, LAPP, and RiPARO Organization), among others, held at West Gate 5, Greenhills, San Juan.

'De Lima also mentioned that three experts from the United Nations (UN) called for immediate action on the growing reports of human rights violations, such as murder, threats against indigenous peoples and the summary execution of children in the country.

These UN experts are Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; Michel Forst, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; and Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children.

De Lima, a known human rights defender, stressed that the Filipino people should look at how multilateral organizations continue to monitor the human rights situation in the country and speak against violations of basic rights of the people.

"Let us not allow ourselves to become complicit in this murderous war on drugs. Let us not allow ourselves to become accomplices in the flagrant violation of human rights. Let us not allow ourselves to become helpless in the face of this state-sanctioned bloodshed," she said.

The Senator from Bicol also expressed serious concern over the worsening conditions of the families and children displaced by the protracted crisis precipitated by the ongoing military operations in Marawi City.

De Lima recently filed Senate Resolution No. 455 urging the Department of Foreign Affairs to invite Cecilia Jimenez-Damary, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), to examine the difficult living conditions of the growing number of displaced people in Marawi.

Since the declaration of martial law on May 23, about 351,168 people have been displaced in Marawi, with 17,389 of them staying in evacuation areas, based on figures released by the Department of Social Welfare and Development in Zamboanga last June.

Amid all the struggles Filipinos are experiencing under the Duterte regime, De Lima said she remains optimistic that more and more people will speak up and fight for their basic rights and freedom, which has been ignored by the present administration.

A vocal critic of injustices happening in the country since Duterte assumed the presidency, De Lima continues to fulfill her Senate duties by writing bills and resolutions even while in detention.

Source: Senate of the Philippines

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