MANILA (UCAN): The recent murders of three teenagers in Manila as part of what the president, Rodrigo Duterte, likes to call his war on drugs, have provided a compelling reason for people to rethink their support for the campaign.
“There are far too many deaths that demand answers,” Jose Luis Martin Gaston, the chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights, said following the discovery of the hog-tied and tortured remains of 14-year-old Reynaldo de Guzman, whose body was found floating face down in a creek on September 5.
De Guzman is the third teenager to be murdered by the police in as many weeks, as they produced a record number of deaths in and around Manila on Duterte’s order to step up the campaign.
The body of de Guzman’s neighbour and friend, 19-year old Carl Angelo Arnaiz, was discovered a few days earlier in a morgue about a week after they disappeared from Cainta, on the eastern edge of the capital.
Police who recovered de Guzman’s body described the horrific scene, describing it as reminiscent of other murders that the national police chief, Ronald de la Rosa, has blamed on local agents of Mexico’s Sinaloa drug cartel.
However, de Guzman’s mother, Lina de Guzman, rejected this explanation saying it is improbable that the two boys, who disappeared together on August 17, could have ended up as victims of different groups.
Police in the Caloocan claim they shot Arnaiz early on August 18 after a botched robbery attempt of a taxi driver.
Members of the same police unit also shot 17-year old student, Kian dela Cruz, again in what they official reported as a shootout two days before.
But the murder was caught on security cameras and has led to the filing of murder charges against several police officers and the suspension of their commanders. A forensic examination shows that the victim was kneeling at the time he was shot.
The public attorney’s office says the second killing mirrored the first, with the victim also shot while kneeling.
The forensic examination revealed that the youngest victim had 30 stab wounds as well on his body, while his head had been wrapped in plastic with black cloth taped to it.
“We cannot let this pass,” the vice president, Leni Robredo, said in a statement. “The killings must stop.”
She stressed, “We should never accept that in this country our children can just disappear and then be found tortured and dead.”