Innocent child, casualty of gov’t war on drugs

>> Monday, November 7, 2016

Alfred P. Dizon

Parents and relatives of Danica Mae Garcia, an innocent casualty of the government’s war on drugs, are still gripped by the sorrow of her sudden and violent demise.
“Standing before her tomb on All Saints’ Day, they wept as if the gunshots that rang out in their house in Barangay Mayombo, Dagupan City, was just yesterday,” reporter Eva Visperas wrote. 
“In police records, Danica Mae will remain the first child to die as collateral damage in the Philippine National Police’s anti-drugs war in Pangasinan. But to her parents, Danica Mae will always be their five-year-old angel whose only “fault” was to be an entertaining granddaughter to her grandfather on the day he was the subject of a police operation for being in the drugs watchlist.”
Before leaving, Visperas said, her parents offered at her tomb candles and her favorite chocolate cake. “Family members and relatives said they will continue to demand justice for Danica Mae as they still feel her presence.”
Danica Mae is just one among the many people killed by lawmen as government intensifies its war on drugs that has alarmed the international community and religious sectors.  
Philippine church leaders on Tuesday renewed calls for an end to killings linked to President Rodrigo Duterte's drug war as millions of people took part in traditional ceremonies to remember the dead.
Duterte's bloody campaign to rid the country of criminals has been a feature of this year's All Saints' Day, with some people using the annual commemoration to poke fun at the brutal crackdown.
Families typically mark November 1 by flocking to the graves of loved ones across the mainly Catholic country, lighting candles and praying for their souls.
Reports have it that  that this year, some retailers in Manila, apparently inspired by Duterte's clampdown that has killed more than 4,000 people, used fake cadavers and police crime tape to promote hand sanitizing products.
A house in the capital was reported as having a grisly display of polystyrene foam in the shape of bodies wrapped in garbage bags and packing tape, with a sign reading "Do not follow them" -- resembling the way victims of the drug war are often found.
But not everyone appreciated the black humor in relation to Duterte's campaign, that has drawn international criticism for alleged extrajudicial killings and rights violations.
"It has come to this: Death has become so easy and common it is now a joke, a visual gag in gleaming malls where families and children gather," an editorial in the Philippine Daily Inquirer said Tuesday.
Duterte, who was swept to power in May on a promise to eradicate drugs by killing suspects, claims police are only acting in self-defence and drug gangs are murdering their members to silence them.
But an official at the influential Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines repeated the church's call to fight drugs "the right and proper way".
"We encourage the faithful to pray for the souls of the victims of extrajudicial killings," Father Jerome Secillano, executive secretary at its public affairs office, told Agence France Press.
"We continue our call to stop the killings and to look for the perpetrators."
Archbishop Angel Lagdameo from the central province of Iloilo also issued a statement saying the church "cannot accept in conscience extrajudicial killings".
"Each time a person is killed without due process, a part of us dies also. Our humanity is diminished and our dignity is cheapened," Lagdameo wrote on Sunday.

As a netizen said: Six years more to go, by that time, this country would have surpassed the number of civilians killed as compared to the holocaust  victims of Nazi Germany in World War 2.


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