Call for rethink on deadly drug campaign intensifies

Discovery of third teen's body prompts senior figures, including Philippine vice-president to speak out
Call for rethink on deadly drug campaign intensifies

A witness points to where residents found Reynaldo de Guzman, hours after they heard a truck stop and the sound of a heavy object thrown into the creek. (Photo by Leila Dapitan)

The recent murders of three teenagers provide a compelling reason for Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to rethink his year-old war on drugs, critics of the deadly campaign say.

"There are far too many deaths that demand answers," said Jose Luis Martin Gaston, chair of the Commission on Human Rights, following the discovery of the hog-tied and tortured remains of a third teenager this week.

The body of 14-year-old Reynaldo de Guzman was found floating face down in a creek in a suburb of manila on Sept. 5.

De Guzman was the third teenager killed in as many weeks after Duterte ordered police to step up operations against drug gangs.

The body of his neighbor 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 a horrific scene, and said the killing was reminiscent of other murders that national police chief Ronald de la Rosa has blamed on local agents of Mexico’s Sinaloa drug cartel.

Guzman’s mother, Lina de Guzman rejected this explanation saying, it was improbable that the two boys, who disappeared together on Aug. 17, could have ended up being killed by different groups.

Police in the Caloocan suburb of Manila said they shot Arnaiz dead early on Aug. 18 after a botched robbery attempt on a taxi driver.

Members of the same police unit also killed 17-year old student, Kian de la Cruz, also in what police called a shootout two days before.

The first killing, caught on security cameras, led to the filing of murder charges against several policemen and the suspension of their commanders.

The public attorney’s office has said the second killing mirrored the first, with the victims shot while they were kneeling.

The agency’s forensic specialists said the youngest victim suffered the most, with 30 stab wounds and burns to the body, while his head was wrapped with plastic, black cloth and tape.

"We cannot let this pass," Vice President Leni Robredo said in a statement. "The killings must stop."

"We should never accept that in this country our children can just disappear and then be found tortured and dead," she said.


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