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Killing Fields Found in Davao, Children Shot

May 6, 2011 · 

Human rights workers recently went to Davao City, Southern Philippines to investigate what is believed to be a killing field where skeletal remains of victims of the shadowy Davao Death Squads are dumped. In their investigation, FIND’s (Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance) Search and Forensic Team, with investigators from the Commission on Human Rights, went to Barangay Maa, Davao City and found pieces of long bones, skulls and other remains scattered in an eroded portion of the place. Forensic analysis revealed that the skeletal remains belong to at least six persons, including a female child and that the killings most probably happened in the last six months to three years. Some of the skeletal remains were also found to have torture marks.
Last month, four persons, including a 12-year old boy, were killed by motor-cycle riding gun-men over the weekend in Davao City even as city police chief Conrado Laza stood firm on his earlier pronouncement that there was no death squads operating in the city. The series of vigilante-style killing momentarily stopped at the start of the election campaign in February. In January, ten persons who were allegedly involved in crimes were killed.

The existence of death squads in Davao City and the persistence of torture in the Philippines was raised by Fr. Shay in the committee questioning during the United Nations Human Rights Committee session in Geneva last year. In the meeting, Fr. Shay also displayed photographic evidence of the subhuman conditions of illegally jailed minors and women. Philippine government officials were castigated for their failure to provide the information and answers to the concerns of the committee members on the illegal jailing and imprisonment of women and children, the trafficking of minors for sexual exploitation and many other issues.

To date there are 91 victims of torture documented by the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines nationwide from January to September 2003 alone. Many of these cases were perpetrated by the members of the Philippine Army and the Philippine National Police. No one among the perpetrators were arrested and penalized.

In a statement, Dr. Benito Molino of the Medical Action Group (MAG) condemned the continuing practice of torture in the Philippines, a country with the most number of international conventions signed and ratified including the Convention Against Torture and Other Forms of Ill Treatment or Punishment (CAT). According to him, “the non-reporting of cases of torture by jail personnel, the non-investigation of reported cases of torture, the unpunished actions of government forces preventing human rights investigators to document cases of torture, the absence of clear governmental policy against torture are among these acts that send a signal of tolerance to perpetrators of torture.

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