The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has expressed concern about the impact on children of President Duterte’s war on drugs.
Philippine UNICEF Representative Lotta Sylwander said: “The death of 17-year-old Kian Delos Santos during the drug raid in Caloocan City and the circumstances of his untimely death in relation to the State’s war on drugs are deeply disturbing.”
She has also expressed sympathy for the teenager’s family, and others affected by the drug operations.
“UNICEF offers its condolences to Kian’s family. We share their grief and the grief of all the families of children who have been killed, as well as of children who have lost parents, caregivers and relatives, during anti-drug operations,” she said.
The organisation also called for a “fair and transparent investigation” into Kian’s death that must “seek to guarantee the best interests of children and promote respect for their rights”.
“Those who are responsible for killings and deliberate violence against children must be held accountable, ” she added.
She cited the legal obligations of the Philippine state. “The Philippines, as a State Party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, has a legal and moral obligation to promote, protect and fulfil the human rights of every child.
“Every child’s right to life, to develop to her or his full potential, to be heard, and to be protected from all forms of violence are universal and inalienable. There are no exceptions. These rights apply without qualification.
“UNICEF Philippines joins the many organisations and individuals coming together to demand action to prevent any further loss of children’s lives.
“There is no higher value for a society than to protect its own children and youth.”
Meanwhile, Pablo Virgilio David, the Bishop of Caloocan, said today that the war on drugs had turned his diocese into a “killing field”.
In a press briefing with Senator Risa Hontiveros Bishop David said areas near Caloocan, such as the cities of Navotas and Malabon, had also experienced killings.
In Caloocan, he said at least 80 per cent of the killings were done by “vigilantes”.
“We don’t know who they are, but they roam the streets every night,” he said.
He added that the majority of the victims were from among the poorest in society. “That’s what makes my heart bleed.” he said. “The majority of the victims are supporters of the president.
“Kian, he wanted to be a policeman. He genuinely believed that drugs was a problem in the community.”
The bishop said Kian’s whole family voted for the president. “Now, they feel let down. They ask me, how come? How come we have been victimised?”