Friends and relatives of Kian delos Santos, a teenager killed in the Philippine government's war against illegal drugs on Aug. 16, 2017, light candles to mark the first anniversary of his death. (Photo by Kimberly dela Cruz)
A Philippine senator has proposed declaring a day in August each year as a "National Day of Remembrance" to mark the death of a teenager last year in the government's war against drugs.
The death of 17-year-old Kian de los Santos on Aug. 16, 2017, at the hands of police conducting an anti-drug operation sparked national and international outrage.
Senator Risa Hontiveros said the killing of De los Santos "underscored the human rights atrocities committed in the name of the bloody war on drugs."
The opposition legislator said that by remembering all those who have died in the government's drug war, "the public states its clear rejection of the culture of killing and impunity."
"We have a duty to remember," said Hontiveros. "We must not allow Kian and all the victims to be rendered nameless, invisible and forgotten."
The legislator said the act of remembering, "is an act of defiance against the killings," adding that, "to forget is to give consent."
Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kalookan led relatives and friends of De los Santos in unveiling a memorial marker at San Roque Cathedral in Manila's Caloocan City.
De los Santos' case stirred up controversy after police claimed that the teenager tried to fight it out with them with a .45 caliber pistol.
Witness testimonies, however, disproved the claims. An independent autopsy also showed the boy was shot in the head.
"If they said that he fought back, and it's not true, how many other cases are there where police were lying?" said Jose Luis Martin Gascon, chairman of the Commission on Human Rights.
Catholic priest Flavie Villanueva said Delos Santos "became a symbol of systematic killing involving youths."
Data from the Children's Legal Rights and Development Center revealed that at least 74 children have been killed in the two-year old war on narcotics.
Opposition congressman France Castro said President Rodrigo Duterte's drug war has claimed more than 12,000 victims, many of whom were poor.
Early this week, Duterte admitted that he might not be able to solve the drug problem during his six-year term as president.
The Philippine National Police has reported that 23,518 murder cases have been investigated since July 2016, when Duterte came to power, to June 2018. Of that number, at least 4,279 involved drug suspects killed during "legitimate police operations."