At least five suspected drug users and peddlers are killed every night in the national capital Manila amid the government's anti-narcotics war. (Photo by Vincent Go)
A children's rights group has expressed outrage over the death of a five-year-old girl in an assassination attempt linked to the government's all-out war against illegal drugs.
Danica May, a kindergarten pupil died from a gunshot wound to the head after a gunman shot her grandfather, Maximo Garcia in Dagupan City, in Pangasinan province on Aug. 23.
The attack came three days after Garcia had registered with local police, who suspected his involvement in the drug trade. Garcia denied the allegation.
"We are angered by deaths of innocent children who fell victims in this ruthless campaign against drugs and crime," said Kharlo Manano, secretary-general of the Salinlahi Alliance for Children's Concerns.
According to Salinlahi, Danica May became the youngest victim of the killings by vigilante groups who have been targeting suspected illegal drug users and pushers.
"Killing innocent lives and disregarding human rights will never equate to a successful war on drugs," said Manano.
The Philippine National Police said some 1,900 suspected drug users and peddlers have been killed since President Rodrigo Duterte ordered an all-out war on narcotics on July 1.
Human Rights Watch noted that Duterte's "aggressive rhetoric advocating violent, extrajudicial solutions to crime in the Philippines has found willing takers."
The New York-based human rights watchdog also criticized the Philippines' Secretary of Justice for justifying the killings of alleged criminal suspects.
"Desperate times call for desperate measures. So this is what the president is doing and we support it," said Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre during a media interview.
Child rights group Salinlahi appealed to law enforcers to spare innocent children in the war against illegal drugs.
"What poor Filipino children need from the government is protection from syndicates who lure them into being criminals," said Manano.
"We are one with the Duterte administration's intention to eliminate illegal drugs in the country but we should always consider the social context of poor children and their families," he added.