MANILA — Human Rights Watch, a non-governmental organization that defends the rights of people worldwide, released a 48-page report on Wednesday detailing the plight of thousands of Filipino children impacted by the killing of their parents or guardians under President Rodrigo Duterte’s so-called war on drugs.
HRW’s report called: “Our Happy Family is Gone: Impact of the ‘War on Drugs’ on Children in the Philippines” showed the psychological and economic trauma experienced by children whose parents and guardians were killed in a government-sponsored police operation called: “Tokhang.”
“I saw my father holding his ID, which he was showing to the police, while they were pointing a gun to his head. Why was my father targeted? Moments later they shot him.”
“Tokhang” or “knock and plead” is when the Philippine Police knock on a suspected drug trafficker or drug addict’s home to order them to surrender and stop their illegal activities.
But there were times when this ended in violence and bloodshed.
“The purpose of this report is to try to look into the impact of the drug war not just on the victims, but also on the families, particularly children,” says Carlos Conde.
Conde said the death of the breadwinner drove the family deeper into poverty. Children were forced to work to make a living. Some were forced to live on the streets. They also became victims of bullying in their school and in the community.
“The government has written off these children and their families, the government does not have a single specific program to help these children.”
HRW said this report could make its way to the u-s congress and may further push lawmakers to cancel military aid to the Philippines and the nearly $2 billion dollar arms deal between the U.S. and the Duterte administration — unless the killings stop.
“We oppose that deal, we felt that in fact, going forward with that deal would again give a stamp of approval to the Philippine government in a way that is not appropriate given its core human rights records and urging the Congress to say no,” said director Phil Robertson.
Meanwhile — a new report by the United Nations on the human rights violations in the Philippines is also expected to be released in the coming week.
The Philippine drug war is expected to be brought up at the June Human Rights council in Geneva.
The HRW is calling an independent international inquiry into the killings.