MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Commission on Human Rights on Thursday, July 4, condemned the “death of another innocent life” during a buy-bust operation in Rodriguez, Rizal.
In a statement, CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said the death of 3-year-old Myca Ulpina and other minors caught in the crossfire of the government’s anti-illegal drugs campaign “are simply not collateral damage.”
“She would’ve turned 4 by the end of July, but [her] life was cut short in the hands of those who swore to protect her,” she said. “[The minors] are victims. Their hopes and dreams fall short once [a] bullet enters their bodies.”
Ulpina was killed during an operation that targeted her father, Renato Dolorfina, and another unidentified cohort early morning of June 29.
According to the police, Dolorfina used his child as a “human shield” when the shootout happened. But his said in an interview with GMA News that the family was sleeping on the floor when the cops barged into their home.
The 3-year-old sustained a gunshot wound in the head and died in the hospital the following day. Her father died on the spot.
The CHR, which dispatched a team to investigate the incident, called on the government to “expedite the investigation…and allow the rule of law to prevail.”
“The Commission supports the end of illegal drugs in the country, but we continue to echo the sentiment that the end does not justify the means,” De Guia said.
She added that the success of the government's campaign should not be measured based on the number of drug suspects killed, "but rather to the multitude of lives changed."
Detained opposition Senator Leila de Lima also expressed outrage over the death of Ulpina.
“Isang buhay na naman ang nasayang at nadagdag sa mga libu-libong inosenteng biktima na nagbuwis ng buhay sa huwad na kampanyang ito ng pamahalaan na walang kinahinatnan,” she said in a statement.
(A life was again wasted and added to the thousands of innocent victims who lost their lives in this fake government campaign that's going nowhere.)
Ulpina is just one of the minors and college students killed in President Rodrigo Duterte’s violent war on drugs, either caught in the crossfire or targeted such as 17-year-old Kian delos Santos. (LIST: Minors, college students killed in Duterte's drug war)
At least 6,000 suspected drug personalities have been killed in operations while human rights groups pegged the number to reach more than 20,000 to include those killed vigilante-style.
Human Rights Watch (HRW), in a statement, said the deaths of children and thousands of adults should push the United Nations Human Rights Council to adopt a resolution urging the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to investigate and report on the violations in the Philippines.
“The resolution on the table is a modest first step, but if passed and implemented it can make significant inroads towards stopping the carnage in the Philippines,” Carlos Conde of HRW Asia Division said.
“The ‘drug war’ has also damaged countless Filipino children who continue to grapple with the psychological, emotional, social, and economic impact of the killings of their loved ones, who were often their family’s breadwinner,” he added. – Rappler.com
Jodesz Gavilan is a writer and researcher for Rappler and its investigative arm, Newsbreak. She covers human rights and also hosts the weekly podcast Newsbreak: Beyond the Stories. She joined Rappler in 2014 after obtaining her journalism degree from the University of the Philippines.