Child Rights Network (CRN) welcomes the announcement of outgoing International Criminal Court (ICC) Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda that she has formally requested an investigation into crimes against humanity perpetrated under the anti-illegal drugs campaign of the current administration.
We note that in June 2020, it was reported that at least 122 children have been killed in the Philippines’ anti-illegal drugs campaign, according to a report published by the Children’s Legal Rights and Development Center (CLRDC). CLRDC is a member of CRN.
The repercussions of the anti-illegal drugs campaign go beyond the death count we mentioned. With thousands killed under Oplan Tokhang and related operations, this bloody campaign has resulted into a generation of orphans and traumatized children, a generation robbed of loving parents and kin, a generation who will forever remember the brutal manner of death their parents or guardians went through.
As we welcome the ICC chief prosecutor’s request to the ICC to open an investigation regarding the killings, we also share her hopes that the incoming ICC chief prosecutor, Mr. Karim Khan, will prioritize the resolution of this case. We note that the aim of the upcoming probe is not only to indict President Rodrigo Duterte for his accountability, but also to help uncover the culpability of other officials and law enforcement authorities who played pivotal roles in enabling the spate of killings, including those of children.
We continue to seek justice for all children who have become cannon fodder under the violent anti-illegal drugs campaign. The young lives that were taken have names, families, hopes, and dreams. With ICC coming into play, we earnestly hope that these young victims would no longer remain as abstract statistics and that Filipino children’s deaths will finally be given the justice they long deserved.
To date, 17-year-old Kian delos Santos’ story remains the sole case involving children under the administration’s anti-illegal drugs campaign that has already been resolved by a court, with the Caloocan Regional Trial Court Branch 125 handing a guilty verdict against the three policemen involved in the operation in 2018. May the impending ICC probe prove to be a step in the right direction that would guide us to a future where no more Kians are robbed of their futures.
We call on the Philippine government not to set aside the ICC prosecutor’s findings, without even looking at the worrying findings contained in the ICC prosecutor’s report. Instead, we call on the government to fully cooperate in the upcoming investigation. We remind our state officials that even if the Philippines has already withdrawn from the Rome Statute, the nation remains a state party to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, and thus, the government has a legal and moral obligation to promote, protect and fulfill the human rights of every child. Cooperating with an investigation where children’s rights are involved is an integral part of that obligation.
“Good nutrition starts at pregnancy. After all, what the mother eats, the child receives. By providing adequate access to health and nutrition services, we will be able to reduce the cases of malnutrition and save millions of lives,” said Save the Children Philippines Chief Executive Officer Atty. Alberto Muyot.
Hope for their Future will be supporting Save the Children Philippines’ Project NURTURE which implements multisectoral nutrition programs and interventions to prevent cases of stunting among children, and provides guidance and support to parents, communities, and local government units.
“Through Hope for their Future, we hope to liberate malnourished children from the long-lasting impacts of malnutrition. Help us change the narrative of these vulnerable children by sending your donation at bit.ly/PledgeSurvive. Your generosity and act of kindness can be life-saving,” appealed Soberano.