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Gov't denies neglecting youth in illegal drug campaign

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The government denied it is neglecting the children who have lost their parents or guardians in the government’s crackdown against illegal drugs.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque was responding to a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report claiming that the national government has failed to assist the children of those killed in the administration’s drug war.

Roque acknowledged the role of human rights organizations in bringing to notice the plight of children orphaned by the drug war.

However, he said there was no need for them to make this reminder since the national government is already doing its job.

“Hindi na kinakailangang tawaging pansin dahil binibigyan namin ng number one importansya ang ating kabataan (There is no need to call our attention because we are giving number one importance to our youth),” Roque said in a virtual presser.

He declined to comment on the report any further, saying he has yet to see the report.

“Hindi ko po alam kung anong basehan ng report na ‘yan. Hindi ako makakomento kasi di ko pa nakita yung report na ‘yan (I don’t know the basis of that report. I can’t comment on that because I haven’t seen the report yet),” Roque said.

The 48-page report, “‘Our Happy Family Is Gone’: Impact of the ‘War on Drugs’ on Children in the Philippines”, the HRW said many children have suffered “physical, emotional, and economic harm” over the death of their parents or guardians in the drug war.

“The Philippine government has failed to assist the children of those killed in its abusive ‘war on drugs.’ Beyond the illegality of the killings themselves, the government has violated the fundamental rights of the children of victims,” the report said.

It noted that while the government has provided payment for medical and burial expenses, “it doesn’t have specific programs addressing the needs of such families.”

The report presented information on 23 drug war deaths, gathered through HRW's interviews with 49 people, including 10 children, 23 parents, relatives or guardians, and 16 individuals from government offices and non-governmental groups.

Aside from putting an end to the drug war, investigate the killings, and prosecute perpetrators, the HRW also urged the government to promptly and fairly compensate the families of victims of unlawful killings by government officials and their agents.

The HRW also asked the government to fully cooperate with the Commission on Human Rights’ investigation of such killings and fully cooperate with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights by preparing a report on the human rights situation in the Philippines.

They also urged the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to provide material assistance and targeted financial support programs to parents, appointed relatives, or legal guardians and any relevant agency responsible for the welfare of a child and protect them from economic exploitation from performing any work harmful to the child's health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral, or social development.

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