Opening Remarks of Commissioner Gwendolyn Ll. Pimentel-Gana during the forum entitled “Panaghoy: A Gendered and Child Perspective on EJKs and the War on Drugs”

Sulo Riviera Hotel, Quezon City | 27 March 2017
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From the National Human Rights Institution of the country, and the Gender Ombud under the Magna Carta of Women, a warm and pleasant morning! I welcome our guest speakers for today, community leaders and organizers, media practitioners, human rights advocates, members of the academe, and government officials. We welcome as well our participants from communities, women’s and child rights organizations, religious, academic institutions, and our development partners. This forum is long overdue, and we are pleased that through the partnership of our Protection Office, the Child Rights Center, and the Gender Equality and Women’s Human Rights Center this forum is made possible.

Since last year, the Commission, pursuant to its mandate under the Constitution, has been investigating and monitoring cases of extrajudicial killings (EJK) related to the government’s “war on drugs”. Since the rise of drug related killings, the number of reported deaths from media has reached more than 7,000. On the part of the Commission, and through the EJK Task Force which I head, it has docketed a total of 465 cases. This consisted of cases taken cognizance by the Commission motu propio, and those filed by complainants who were mostly family members of the victims. The docketed cases consisted of 581 victims, 18 of these were women and 11 were minors. Most of the cases were investigated motu propio with 422 cases, and 43 cases filed with complainants. As of today, the youngest victims were fiveyear olds, one in Region 1, a girl, and another in NCR, a boy.

In the conduct of the Commission’s investigation, monitoring, and reporting of EJKs, one of the gaps identified is the absence of a gendered and child perspective on the EJKs and the “war on drugs”. While data of the Commission is sex and age disaggregated, a deep analysis on the impact of the “war on drugs” and of the killings on women and children has not been undertaken. This entails not only recording the number of women and minors who were victims, mostly collateral victims of the “war on drugs,” but also a deeper look into how the “war on drugs” affects the lives of women and children family members of victims. As Gender and Child Ombud designated to advocate for the protection and promotion of women and children’s human rights, this gap in the reporting must be addressed. It is in this context that the Commission has decided to undertake a project on Engendering EJK and the War on Drugs, a project that aims to surface the impact of EJKs and the “war on drugs” on women and children through focus group discussions (FGDs) and key informant interviews (KIIs).

The project aims to mainstream the concerns of women and children in the Commission’s investigation and monitoring by focusing as well on the impact of the killing and the campaign against drugs on women and children. Through FGDs and KIIs not only focused on the killing, and the government’s responses thereto, but also on their lives prior and after the government’s “war on drugs,” the project aims to surface the voices of grandmothers, mothers, sisters, wives, girlfriends, and children whose loved ones and family members fell as a result of the government’s “war on drugs”. Through this endeavour, the Commission aims to submit to the government recommendations and key interventions grounded on the experiences of women and children. It also aims to highlight gaps and key issues, particularly relating to women’s and children’s human rights.

Today’s forum titled “Panaghoy: A Gendered and Child Perspective on EJKs and the War on Drugs” is part of the said project. Specifically, today’s forum seeks to gather stakeholders working across sectors of women children to:

i) initially surface the experiences and concerns of women and children as due to EJK and the “war on drugs”;
ii) be acquainted with the initiatives of the government in addressing their concerns; and
iii) gain a common understanding of their struggles, as well as identify gaps on existing interventions given their condition and situation.

We hope that this forum will pave the way for an initial documentation of the impact of EJK and the current “war on drugs” on women and children. We hope as well that different government officials, advocates, and communities will be acquainted with existing and available programs and interventions. The Commission, together with its Task Force on EJK, and this project on Engendering EJKs, remain committed in upholding International Human Rights Standards. We will continue our investigation, monitoring, and reporting, and we recognize that it is only through working with communities, and with different sectors and government agencies, that we will be able to successfully call for a campaign against illegal drugs that upholds human rights and the rule of law.

Thank you and a productive and meaningful day ahead of us! Padayon!

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sam santos