Stop killing children | Inquirer Opinion
At Large

Stop killing children

/ 05:07 AM September 27, 2017

“Maybe they don’t have children or young relatives,” said an FB post in reaction to news that seven senators did not sign a recent resolution urging the Duterte administration to stop the killings of children and minors as part of its “war on drugs.”

The seven non-signers are: Senate President Aquilino Pimentel, Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, and Senators Richard Gordon, Cynthia Villar, Juan Miguel Zubiri, Gregorio Honasan, and Manny Pacquiao.

While all six members of the Senate minority signed the resolution, spearheaded by Senator Kiko Pangilinan, they were also joined by 10 senators identified with the administration.

The resolution urges the Duterte administration to “undertake the necessary steps to stop the spate of killings, especially of our children.” It also called for a Senate investigation into the killings to identify the “institutional reasons, if any, that give rise to such killings.”


At least 54 minors have been killed as part of police operations or vigilante-style shootings, a study shows. Although some were but “collateral damage,” the shock and grief at their passing was just as, if not more, powerful than for those who were actively targeted. The issue, though, only burst into the headlines with the serial deaths of Kian delos Santos, 17; Carl Arnaiz, 19, Reynaldo de Guzman, 14; and the latest casualty — Jayross Brondial, 13, a victim, say his neighbors, of mistaken identity.

Now, I can’t imagine an issue that more firmly falls into the “motherhood” category than putting a stop to the killing of children, by police, no less, or by unknown assassins.

So why were the seven non-signers, including the lone woman, Senator Villar who has a small grandchild, so leery of lending their names to a resolution which, the public will surely agree, is not just urgent and important, but addresses an issue that shames the entire country? Politics surely came to the fore, but by refusing to support the resolution, the seven non-signers all the more underscored the political, partisan nature of their decision.

* * *


Heartbreaking, indeed were the words uttered by Horacio Castillo Jr., and his wife Carmina, parents of slain fraternity wannabe Horacio “Atio” Castillo.

Something resonated in the Castillo couple’s prepared statement read during the start of the Senate hearing on their son’s death.


“We are no different from other parents. We live our lives for our children, wishing to always shield them from harm, to shelter from injustice,” the Castillos said. “We will forever be tormented that the Aegis Juris invited [our son] only to treat him like an animal.”

But the brutal hazing, which left giant bruises and contusions on Atio’s arms and maybe legs, is not the only issue the Castillos are raising against Aegis Juris and the “brothers” who inflicted the injuries. The couple also raised the way the would-be brods treated their son “like an animal” after Atio’s collapse and death. Fraternity members, through an anonymous text message, informed the Castillos of Atio’s whereabouts but only after more than a day of agony and uncertainty on the part of his family.

In J.D. Salinger’s novel “The Catcher in the Rye,” the protagonist takes his younger sister to a park where she clamors to ride a carousel, joining the other young riders in leaning far out of her steed to ring a bell.

The older brother is alarmed at the possibility of her falling out of her horse, but he realizes that part of looking after someone put under your care is letting her test her limits, trusting in her abilities and giving her the chance to explore her strengths.

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Maybe that’s what went through the minds of the Castillo couple. When Atio informed them that he was taking part in a “frat activity,” they must have been aware of the risks incurred during frat initiations. But trusting in fate and in your child is perhaps the most painful and challenging part of parenthood, although in their case their trust was paid for with grief and anger and a resolve not to let what happened to Atio happen again to any other young person.

TAGS: At Large, Carl Angelo Arnaiz, drug killings, extrajudicial killings, Horacio Castillo III, Jayross Brondial, Kian Loyd delos Santos, Reynaldo de Guzman, rina jimenez david, war on drugs

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