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Poe tells PNP: Probe child deaths amid war on drugs

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Grace Poe on Tuesday, September 6, asked Philippine National Police chief Ronald dela Rosa to investigate the circumstances leading to the death of a 4-year-old girl in an August 30 drug bust by police in Guihulngan, Negros Oriental.

Althea Fhem Barbon and her father, 31-year-old Aldrick, died after being shot by policemen near their home on Larena Street in Barangay Poblacion.

Aldrick, a suspected shabu seller, died instantly. Althea was taken to a hospital in Dumaguete City, but died two days later.

Poe cited Section 39 of Republic Act 8551 – the PNP Reform and Reorganization Act of 1998 – which said the Internal Affairs Service of the Philippine National Police (PNP-IAS) shall conduct, motu proprio, automatic investigation of incidents where death, serious physical injury or any violation of human rights occurred in the conduct of a police operation.

Poe said, "The PNP-IAS must ensure that scalawags in the police service are held accountable, more so in cases where children and minors are senselessly caught in the crossfire. Their vulnerability must not be trampled upon.”

Poe has also called for the appointment of a civilian head for the Internal Affairs Service.

She added, "The situation where innocent children become victims of the drug war is deplorable and must be addressed without delay.

The senator also followed up on the investigation into the death of 5-year-old Danica Mae Garcia of Dagupan City, Pangasinan, who was killed by a bullet intended for her grandfather. (READ: The drug war: Danica, my Danica)

While Poe has expressed full support for the government's anti-drug campaign, she explained, "The prime duty of the police force is to serve and protect the people." 

She added, "The protection of life is one of the essentials for the enjoyment of the blessings of democracy." – Rappler.com