CHR ‘deeply disturbed’ over ‘rising’ youth killings

Bandera (Mindanao) - - FRONT PAGE -

THE Commission on Human Rights (CHR) called on the Philippine National Police (PNP) and other concerned government agencies to seriously look into the seemingly rising number of youth killings in the country even as it expressed support to the vision of the administration’s campaign against illegal drugs.

In a statement issued on Friday, the CHR said it is “deeply disturbed” that many teenagers and children appeared to be victims of unexplained killings, which merit decisive action by authorities.

“The CHR is deeply disturbed with the rising death toll of teens and minors in the country. Re ce n t repor t s , not counting those that remain undocumented, prove that such incidents are not mere ‘isolated cases’ and deserve serious, concrete actions from the government,” the CHR said in a statement.

The agency, which budget was slashed to a meager P1,000 by the House of Representatives, also said: “Whatever the reason may be, one death is still too many. The recent killing of Kian delos Santos, 17; Carl Angelo Arnaiz, 19; Reynaldo de Guzman, 14; Raymart Siapo, 19; and Grace Omadlao, 16, raises serious concerns on the quality of protection that the government extends to our children.”

According to the CHR, the rights of children, whether accused and adjudged for crimes or innocent, should be consistently upheld and protected.

The CHR asserted that every human’s rights, including the rights of the children, must “never be sacrificed in the drive against criminality and should never be shrugged off when convenient.”

Citing the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006, the CHR reiterated that “death is never an appropriate response.

The Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006 provided that the government should “apply the principles of restorative justice in all its laws, policies and programs applicable to children in conflict with the law.”

The CHR reminded law enforcement agents that children become traumatized on the sidelines of drug operations.

“Exposure to conflict and violence related to the illegal drugs trade, as studies show, impacts children’s psychological development due to the significant correlation between living in violent surroundings and aggression and rule-breaking,” the CHR said.

The CHR urged the PNP and other related government offices, as well as the public, to “seek out the truth” concerning the reported deaths of the youth.

“We look forward to the commitment and cooperation of the PNP and other related government agencies in seeking out the truth concerning these deaths. We strongly believe that it is only through openness and transparency that we can achieve justice for these killings,” it said.

“We support the vision of the government’s campaign against illegal drugs to provide a better future for our children but for whom are we doing this drive if they are all gone?”

“Our children deserve better treatment. They ought to be given food and nourishment, not bullets in their bodies; they should be resting on clean, safe shelters, not lying cold in the streets; they need care and protection, not a life of violence,” it also said.

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