Philippine Rights Commission to Investigate Killing of Boy, 16, by Police

Marielle Lucenio
Philippine Rights Commission to Investigate Killing of Boy, 16, by Police A man holds a placard in Tagalog saying “The death squad killed my father,” as he and other Filipinos participate in a day of mourning in Manila for victims of extrajudicial killings, Aug. 20, 2019.
Jojo Riñoza/BenarNews

The Philippine human rights commission said Friday it would investigate the killings of a 16-year-old boy and his adult companion during a police counter-narcotics raid, the second reported fatal shooting of drug suspects by Filipino cops this week.

The teenager, Johndy Maglinte, and his adult friend, Antonio Dalit, allegedly died in a shootout with police during a drug-related arrest in Biñan city, south of Manila on Wednesday, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said. It cited an initial police report on the incident.

“[The Commission] is deeply concerned with the news on another death of a minor – this time involving a 16-year-old boy who allegedly fought back (nanlaban) when police officers were serving a warrant for a drug charge in Biñan, Laguna,” Jacqueline Ann de Guia, CHR spokeswoman, said in a statement.

“We shall be conducting our own independent probe on this incident to pursue the truth behind the incident and, more importantly, in pursuit of justice should it be proven that a human rights violation was perpetrated by the police.”

The deaths of Maglinte and Dalit marked the second fatal shooting by Philippine police during a counter-narcotics arrest in the same week that the outgoing prosecutor of the International Criminal Court called for a full investigation into thousands of alleged extrajudicial killings during the Duterte administration’s war on drugs.

“[W]e strongly urge the government to speed up their investigations on cases of alleged extrajudicial killings, especially those linked to the government’s drug campaign. Notably, there was already an observation from the U.N. Human Rights Office on the ‘widespread and systematic killing of thousands of alleged drug suspects’ and the persistent impunity in the country that urgently need to be addressed,” de Guia said.

“We hope that commitments to uphold human rights translate to delivering justice to the aggrieved and improvements on government programs and policies, including reviewing the conduct of state agents in implementing them.”

The CHR is an independent body set up under the 1987 Philippine constitution to investigate alleged human rights violations.

An official report by the Philippine National Police said the two suspects in Biñan city “exchanged shots” with the arresting officers who had properly identified themselves.

But according to the CHR, the boy’s live-in partner, who is also a minor, told local media that she witnessed the killings, and the two suspects were “handcuffed and facing down into the mud” when police shot them.

On Friday, National Police chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar denied that his officers had strayed, and said he ordered an investigation into the allegation that police officers had summarily executed the two suspects.

“First, he was not handcuffed as others claimed,” Eleazar told local radio station Radyo5.

Eleazar, who vowed to clean up the national force when he became chief in early May, said officers would investigate if there were any disparities in the police report.

The killings in Biñan city occurred a day before a former mayor in the southern Philippines, Montasser Sabal – whose name President Rodrigo Duterte had put on a list of suspected narco-politicians but without offering any proof – was shot and killed by police after his arrest.

While Sabal was being transported to Manila, police said he grabbed a policer officer’s gun, leading to a scuffle in which he was shot and later died.

This week’s killings by police underscore the need for international pressure to stop Duterte’s bloody “drug war,” said Carlos Conde, a senior researcher for Human Rights Watch in the Philippines.

“We have seen far too many children falling victim to horrific police evidence. This should compel the ICC’s pre-trial chamber to formally open an investigation,” Conde told BenarNews.

On Monday, Fatou Bensouda, the then-chief prosecutor for the ICC, which is based in The Hague, said there was “a reasonable basis to believe that the Crime Against Humanity of murder was committed” in the Philippines between July 2016 and March 2019, as she released a report and asked for a full ICC investigation into Duterte’s drug war.

“Information obtained by the prosecution suggests that state actors, primarily members of the Philippine security forces, killed thousands of suspected drug users and other civilians during official law enforcement operations,” Bensouda said.

The next day, a spokesman for Duterte said the president would “never, ever cooperate” with an ICC investigation, and dismissed Bensouda’s report as “politically motivated.”

In May 2019, the Philippines officially withdrew from The Hague-based ICC, saying the country was no longer “bound by its rules.”

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