Hontiveros wants Senate probe into death of 3-year-old in police operation

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Risa Hontiveros  wants  a Senate inquiry into the death of 3-year-old Myca Ulpina, who was killed in a crossfire during a buy-bust operation.

"Hindi maaaring maging 'business as usual' at 'everyday reality' ang pagkamatay ng mga inosenteng buhay, lalo na ang mga bata, sa ilalim ng war on drugs ni Pangulong [Rodrigo] Duterte," Hontiveros told reporters during the weekly Kapihan at the Senate, where she announced that she had filed a Senate resolution seeking an inquiry into the child's death.

(The death of innocent lives can't be "business as usual" and "everyday reality," especially for children, under the war on drugs of President Rodrigo Duterte.)

Hontiveros said that the probe would also lead to recommendations on how to better ensure the protection of children during police operations, noting that Ulpina was not the first child to die in Duterte's drug war. (READ: LIST: Minors, college students killed in Duterte's drug war)

"Following on that painful experience and lesson,  magkaroon talaga ng proteksyon para sa mga bata. Kasi hindi una si Myca sa namatay o unang tinarget sa ilalim nitong war on drugs…. Dapat bukod sa findings, magkaroon ng rekomendasyon pa'no siguraduhin ang kaligtasan ng mga bata sa mga law enforcement operations," she said.

(Following on that painful experience and lesson, children should really be protected. Because Myca was not the first to die or to be targetted under the war on drugs. Apart from the findings, there should be a recommendation on how to ensure the safety of children during law enforcement operations.)

Ulpina was killed during an operation that targeted her father, Renato Dolorfina, and another unidentified cohort early morning of June 29. Police claimed Dolorfina used his child as a "human shield" during the shootout, but his wife disputed this, saying they were asleep in the wee hours of the morning when cops barged into their home.

Hontiveros said the resolution would most likely be referred to the committee on public order and dangerous drugs, which will be headed by Senator Ronald dela Rosa, a former top cop.

She expressed hope that Dela Rosa would preside over the investigation fairly. Last week, Dela Rosa came under fire after his "shit happens" comment on Ulpina's death, prompting him to apologize for the remark.

"I'm hoping na si Senator Doroy (Dela Rosa) ay ididispense 'yung duty niya bilang committee chair with all the fairness and judiciousness. Dahil marami malamang sa iimbestigahan ay mga kasong (extrajudicial killings) o corruption o other abuses sa war on drugs, na nagsimula o nangyari na siya pa ang chief ng PNP," Hontiveros said.

(I am hoping that Senator Doroy will dispense his duty as committee chair with all fairness and judiciousness. Because for sure, several investigations will be focused on EJKs or corruption, or other abuses in the war on drugs, that started or happened when he was PNP chief.)

Dela Rosa was the overseer of the Duterte administration's bloody campaign against illegal drugs, which is currently under preliminary examination by the International Criminal Court. (READ: The Impunity Series)

Based on the latest government data, a total of 5,050 drug suspects had been killed in law enforcement operations but human rights groups estimate over 20,000 deaths including vigilante-style killings in the campaign. – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.

image