A three-year-old girl is the most recent victim of the government’s campaign against illegal drugs, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).
In a July 1 dispatch, the HRW identified the victim as Myka Ulpina. She was shot during a police operation in Rizal province last Sunday. Authorities supposedly targeted the victim’s father, Renato Dolofrina.
“On Sunday, a 3-year-old girl became the latest casualty of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s ‘war on drugs’, which has killed thousands over the past three years,” according to the dispatch penned by HRW Asia Division researcher Carlos H. Conde.
“Police claimed that Dolofrina used the child as a ‘shield’ during the operation, the HRW noted.
However, the dispatch noted that police accounts of drug raids are not reliable because the officers enforcing the anti-narcotics campaign have been shown to “manufacture evidence such as planting weapons and drugs to justify killings.”
The police clarified that Renato’s true surname is actually Ulpina, not Dolofrina as reported by HRW. “Ulpina talaga ‘yung name ... nag verify ako sa Rodriguez Rizal Police,” Philippine National Police spokesperson Col. Bernard Banac said in a separate mobile message to GMA News Online.
“‘Dolorfina’ is one of the aliases used … but real name is Ulpina …” he added.
Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police on Tuesday extended its condolences to the families of the fatalities the operations in Rizal, noting they included the child, two drug suspects, and a police officer.
“We offer our sincerest condolences to the bereaved families of all four persons who died in this fateful incident,” Banac said in a separate statement.
According to police, the suspect Renato alias “Kato” and his unidentified cohort were armed with a caliber .45 handgun and a caliber .38 pistol.
They resisted arrest and shot it out with P/Sr. Master Sergeant Conrado Cabigao Jr. after supposedly sensing that they were transacting with an undercover cop.
The human rights group also claimed that the drug war has “damaged countless Filipino children who continue to grapple with the psychological, emotional, social and economic impact of the killings of their loved ones.”
“No child should experience the loss of a parent or other family member to extrajudicial killings or witness such horrific violence at the hands of police or hitmen,” it said.
“Any armed engagement especially close quarters combat in a cramped environment like this is very chaotic and the confluence of events is fast and unpredictable to allow more calibrated and cautious reactions,” Banac said.
The child was immediately brought by police operatives to a hospital in a bid to save her life but she did not survive, the police said.
The police officer, on the other hand, also died with a gunshot wound in the neck.
Banac said the PNP is continuously making appropriate measures to improve the combat survivability of its personnel and “actively deter violent resistance” of suspects during operations.
The deaths of children under the drug war should prod the UN Human Rights Council to adopt the Iceland-initiated resolution that urges the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to report on the “drug war” killings and other human rights violations in the Philippines.
Recent government data showed more than 6,000 drug suspects have been killed since Duterte assumed the presidency in 2016. —VDS, GMA News