The Philippine National Police (PNP) was doubtful of a report from human rights group Amnesty International (AI) that around “60” children were killed in the bloody and controversial conduct of the Duterte administration’s war on drugs.
Chief Supt. Dionardo Carlos, PNP spokesman, sounded furious when he downplayed the report of AI, which said its researchers in the Philippines witnessed alleged atrocities committed against the children first-hand.
“Show us the numbers. Show us the individuals. Show specific cases,” Carlos said in a phone call to The Manila Times on Tuesday.
The human rights group said it interviewed family members who revealed that they themselves witnessed how children were killed at close range as they begged for mercy.
“They pointed a gun at my head [and]told me to get out… I heard shouting and three gunshots, then three more shots,” an AI witness said as she recalled how her young boyfriend was killed.
Carlos said it was the international group’s agenda to cite unverified data without proof just to make the Philippine police look bad.
“That is their technique. I don’t know where they got their data,” he added.
Carlos gave little weight to the human rights group’s call for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate the thousands of alleged extrajudicial killings, including the murders of children.
“What do they know about the local law?” he said of the ICC’s capability to judge the alleged human rights violations.
On Monday, AI released a statement that said “as many as 60 children” have been killed in anti-drug operations since June 2016, amid growing concerns that the drug war will be brought back to the PNP.
According to the group, it had an international research team that witnessed how large numbers of children suspected of being drug offenders were kept in an overcrowded and unsanitary holding centers for minors in Manila.
The group disclosed that some children said they were beaten and tortured by the police after their arrests and were framed to pose in photographs with planted drugs.
AI also brought up the case of 17-year-old Kian delos Santos thatcaused a national outcry after a police report and CCTV footage showed different accounts on how he was killed.
The police claimed that he was a drug offender who fought back.
The CCTV footage and witnesses, however, revealed that delos Santos was dragged to an alleyway unarmed before he was shot gangland-style.
More than 12 policemen were investigated and arrested for the killing but there have been no convictions.
The ICC earlier hinted that it would investigate the crimes against the children.
“Police and armed persons linked to the police have killed dozens of children since 2016. Children have also been tortured and detained in appalling conditions, while families have been torn apart,” according to James Gomez, Amnesty International’s regional director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.
“The case of Kian delos Santos has rightly sparked outrage. The blatant lies by officers to try to cover up their role in the cold-blooded murder of a child show that the police cannot be trusted to investigate themselves,” Gomez said.
AI called on the ICC to urgently open a preliminary examination on the killings of children since President Rodrigo Duterte took power and led the Philippine drug war, and check for “crimes against humanity.”
“It is time for international justice mechanisms to step in and end the carnage on Philippine streets by bringing the perpetrators to justice. The country’s judiciary and police have proven themselves both unwilling and unable to hold the killers in the ‘war on drugs’ to account,” Gomez said.