PNP Chief orders probe into death of 3-year-old girl killed in drug operations

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 3) — Philippine National Police Chief Oscar Albayalde has ordered the investigation of the buy-bust operation that killed a 3-year-old girl.

The child, identified as Myka, was caught in a crossfire between the police and her father during a drug raid in Rodriguez, Rizal on June 29. Police said she was used by her father, Renato "Kato" Ulpina as a "human shield."

Among those who died were Ulpina, an unidentified suspect, and Police Master Sergeant Conrado Cabigao Jr.

Albayalde on Wednesday said has ordered Region 4-A Police Director Brigadier General Edward Carranza to look into the incident. He added he is awaiting for the forensic findings of the PNP Crime Laboratory on the case.

Police said Ulpina and the other suspect fired shots at Cabigao, which led to the shootout. Albayalde says Ulpina is a member of a criminal gang involved in gun for hire.

"In any firefight, kasi lalo na kung naputukan na at tinamaan na yung pulis, of course magreretaliate at hindi nya nakikita kung sino (ang binabaril)," Albayalde said.

[Translation: "In any firefight, especially when police are being shot at, of course the police will retalliate and they could not see (their target)."]

Human rights advocates were outraged that a little girl was the latest — and possibly youngest — casualty of President Rodrigo Duterte's war against illegal drugs.

New-York based Human Rights Watch slammed Duterte's anti-drug campaign for the devastation it has unleashed on children.

"Most of those killed in Duterte’s anti-drug campaign, including the children like Myka, lived in impoverished urban areas... The drug war has also damaged countless Filipino children who continue to grapple with the psychological, emotional, social, and economic impact of the killings of their loved ones," it said in  statement on Tuesday.

The United Nations children’s agency, UNICEF, previously condemned the death of 4-year-old Skyler Abatayo in 2018 and the death of Danica May Garcia, 5, in August 2016.

Detained Senator Leila de Lima also expressed outrage against the "sham" war on drugs.

"Hindi mailalarawan ng anumang salita ang galit na nararamdaman ko sa nangyari kay Myka, na nagsakripisyo ng buhay sa pekeng giyera ni Mr. Duterte kontra ilegal na droga," she said in a statement on Wednesday.

[Translation: There are no words to describe my outrage on what happened to Myka, who had to sacrifice her life for Mr. Duterte's fake war against illegal drugs.]

PNP claimed that 6,600 suspects were killed in around 153,000 police operations since the government campaign against illegal drugs started in July 2016. However, human rights advocates said there are around 25,000 killings categorized under “homicide cases under investigation.”

A group of 11 human rights experts within the United Nations Human Rights Council have called for the international body to investigate human rights violations in the Philippines.