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City's poor stalked by fear

February 6, 2006 ·  , ITV NEWS

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There is now a curfew from dusk till dawn. Most children go home. A few never return.

ITV News correspondent Chris Rogers concludes his series of reports on the child prisoners of the Philippines.
Davao is a city where people believe child criminals are being sent to graves in cemeteries instead of cells in prisons.

The city’s mayor once declared war on the young gangs who leave their homes to make a living on the streets but some fall into a cycle of crime.

There is now a curfew from dusk till dawn. Most children go home. A few never return.

When we arrived in the city the local charity that helped me with my research was jittery.

“Please don’t show the faces of the people you interview in your report, please don’t mention the name of our charity” they pleaded with me. We were greeted with a real fear of the authorities.

The charity provided me with documentation showing that there had been 200 murders on the streets of Davao in the last year and that 30 per cent of the victims were children.

Lurking in the shadows of Davao is a frightening force that I was about to take on. We nervously began to film.

Most of the victims are alleged drug pushers and petty criminals, stabbed or gunned down.

Many believe it’s the work of a vigilante group made up of corrupt police officers and contract killers, the locals call them the Davao Death Squad.

Carlita Alia took us to the graves of her three teenage sons. She visits the cemetery every week and prays that a witness to their murders will come forward.

All three boys were stabbed in the space of 18 months and there has never been an investigation into their deaths.

Carlita believes the killers are the death squad.

Bobby, Christopher and Richard had been arrested in the past on various petty charges but with their final arrest came a horrifying threat.

“The police told me that if I don’t keep my sons under control they will kill them one by one,” she told me.

“Eighteen months later I lost my final child. Bobby had already been beaten by the police, the night before he was stabbed. END

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