Child rights advocates welcome the conviction of the perpetrator behind the torture and frame-up of teenagers Carl and Kulot. Albeit long overdue and still not wholly addressing the case – as the judgment came five years after the incident and still does not include the charges of murder – this is a step in the right direction and can be considered a partial victory. We are one with the victims’ families, hoping this development may forebode the coming tide of justice. May justice finally flow.
We note, however, that the recent conviction is only the second conviction of policemen involved in brutal killings of youth and children under former President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody anti-illegal drugs campaign. The first conviction involved the case of Kian delos Santos back in 2018.
We cannot simply forgive and forget, as more cases need to be resolved. We cannot and should not stop demanding accountability. The Children’s Legal Rights and Development Center’s monitoring shows that as of 2021, up to 150 children have been killed under the anti-illegal drugs campaign. Each and every one of those children had names, families, hopes, and dreams.
We also lament that the killings have continued under the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
According to the monitoring of Dahas PH of the Third World Studies Center of UP Diliman, as of November 15, a total of 127 anti-drugs campaign-related deaths have been recorded since Marcos assumed the presidency.
We want to emphasize two points for the national government: first – may the verdict in the case of Carl Arnaiz and Reynaldo De Guzman serve as a staunch reminder that our police force needs reform. When killings of this magnitude happen, it’s not just a case of a rotten apple spoiling the bunch. May the era of heinous killings like this stop.
Second, we call on the Marcos administration to exert extra effort toward resolving and finally ending the previous administration’s bloody “drug war.” This gory relic should be relegated to the dustbins of history.
Child Rights Network vows to continue the quest for justice for all the victims of the anti-illegal drugs campaign and an immediate end to the killings that victimized hundreds of Filipino children and orphaned thousands more.
We will exhaust all means, including enacting laws that will further safeguard the rights and welfare of children, to ensure that no more Kians, Carls, and Kulots would be robbed of a bright future by no less than the State policy itself.
Child Rights Network (CRN) is the largest alliance of organizations and agencies pushing for children’s rights legislation in the Philippines. CRN has 63 members across Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. www.childrightsnetwork.ph