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The War on the Poor

Extrajudicial Killings and Their Effects on Urban Poor Families and Communities

The War on the Poor
Extrajudicial Killings and Their Effects on Urban Poor Families and Communities

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The War on the Poor
Extrajudicial Killings and Their Effects on Urban Poor Families and Communities

Table of Contents

4 Monitoring and Documentation of EJKs

6 Part I:
Findings: The Victims of EJKs

7 Demographics
12 Patterns and Modalities
22 Other HRVs prior to killing

26 Part II
Life after Death: The Impact of EJKs to the
Families Left Behind

26 Immediate Effects to the Family

28 Livelihood and Income of the Family
29 Education of the Children
30 Shelter, Safety and Security
31 Health of the Family
32 Psychosocial Effects on Children, Spouse and Other
Family Members
34 Deprivation of Right to Family among Orphaned
35 Effects to the Community

The War on the Poor
Extrajudicial Killings and Their Effects on Urban Poor Families and Communities

Monitoring and Documentation of EJKs

Since Duterte’s inauguration as the 16th president of the Philippines in
2016, the country has witnessed a steep surge in gross violations of hu-
man rights. Extrajudicial killings (EJKs) has become the hallmark of the
Duterte administration’s governance.

Along with other human rights organizations, the Philippine Human

Rights Information Center (PhilRights) set out to document these cases,
primarily to prevent the erasure of these violations from public memory
and to assist the victims and their families in various rights-claiming ac-
tions that they may want to pursue.

PhilRights’ documentation abides by the principles and investigation

guidelines set by The Minnesota Protocol on the Investigation of Poten-
tially Unlawful Death (2016). This document, also known as The Minne-
sota Protocol, was issued by the Office of the United Nations High Com-
missioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to set international legal standards
to prevent unlawful deaths and investigate extra-legal, summary, and
arbitrary executions.

The Minnesota Protocol clarifies that a “potentially unlawful death” may

(1) have been due to the acts of commission and omission of the State,
its organs or agents including law enforcers, paramilitary groups, mi-
litias or death squads allegedly “acting under the direction or with the
permission or acquiescence of the State” such as the infamous Davao
Death Squad, and “private military and security forces exercising State
functions”, (2) have happened when the victim was in detention by or in
custody of the State, its organs or agents, and (3) have been due to the
failure of the State to fulfil its obligation in protecting life. Under interna-
tional law, a “potentially unlawful death” is the product of an arbitrary,
summary, or extra-legal execution or an alleged extrajudicial killing
(EJK). In the event that the victim survived the incident, the violation is
referred to as “frustrated or attempted extrajudicial killing’.

The War on the Poor
Extrajudicial Killings and Their Effects on Urban Poor Families and Communities

The War on the Poor
Extrajudicial Killings and Their Effects on Urban Poor Families and Communities

Part I
Findings: The Victims of EJKs

How many
were killed?
From August 15, 2017 to June 30, 2018,
PhilRights documented 58 victims of
alleged extrajudicial killing.

The War on the Poor
Extrajudicial Killings and Their Effects on Urban Poor Families and Communities

A look at the demographics of 58 victims of alleged EJKs show that
victims are mostly male adults within the productive age range, primary
breadwinners, low- and irregular-wage earners from the informal sec-
tors of the economy , of low educational attainment, and residents of
urban poor communities.

Gender and Age

Most of the victims were male adults.

55 or 95%

Note: One of the victims’ age

couldn’t be determined.

The War on the Poor
Extrajudicial Killings and Their Effects on Urban Poor Families and Communities

Most of them have
low-earning jobs.
The average daily income of 43 of
the 52 victims who were earning for
their families was Php 301.53, low-
er than the 2018 minimum wages
in Metro Manila (Php 475.00 - Php
512.00), Central Luzon (Php 312.00
– Php 400.00), and CALABARZON
(Php 303.00 – Php 400.00), for both
agricultural and non-agricultural
laborers. There is no information
on the income of the remaining
nine wage earner victims. It must
be noted that, given the nature
of their occupation, their earnings
were not regular.

Most of the victims, especially

construction workers, carpenters,
house painters, porters, and elec-
tricians, earn on a seasonal basis.
They only had the opportunity to
earn an income if they were asked
to do specific tasks. Those who
were self-employed (vendors, tri-
cycle drivers, scavengers) had
fluctuating incomes, usually from
300 to 500 pesos a day, depend-
ing on their sales and number of
Note: Five of the victims’ trips made.
occupation couldn’t be determined.

Some of the victims were sleep-

ing in their pedicabs or tricycles
when they were killed.

The families of the truck drivers On average, each victim had three dependents (this would include
claimed that they were using children, wife, and elderly parent/s). One victim was supporting 17
drugs to help them stay awake people in their household including his children, the children of his
during long routes. siblings, and his unemployed siblings. Nine of them had no depend-
ents but still gave financial support to their families.

The War on the Poor
Extrajudicial Killings and Their Effects on Urban Poor Families and Communities

Educational Attainment
For the majority of the victims, the low
level of educational attainment limited
their access to better opportunities.

Note: Two of the victims’

educational attainment
couldn’t be determined.

The War on the Poor
Extrajudicial Killings and Their Effects on Urban Poor Families and Communities

Where were they killed?

PhilRights’ documentation focused
Most of the victims were residents on the cities of Manila, Caloocan,
of urbanpoor communities, mostly in Malabon, Navotas, Quezon City,
and the provinces of Bulacan and
informal settlements and relocation sites. Rizal. Most of the documented
victims lived in Caloocan (27.59%),
Manila (22.41%), and Quezon City
(13.79%). These are also the cities
with the highest incidents of al-
leged EJK according to the fig-
ures released by the Ateneo Poli-
cy Center (APC), based on media/
online data they collected (Manila,
23.2% of all media-reported EJKs in
the country; Quezon City, 20%; and
Caloocan, 18.7%). Outside Metro
Manila, Bocaue in Bulacan tops
the list in the number of victims
documented by PhilRights.

Within the cities and municipalities

where PhilRights has been able to
document EJK cases from August
15, 2017 to June 30, 2018, there
seems to be an uneven distribu-
tion of deaths among barangays.
Some barangays are notorious for
high clustering.

In Caloocan City, the Bagong Si-

lang and Tala registered the high-
est numbers of documented cas-
es. Bagong Silang or Barangay 176
is the country’s largest barangay in
land area and population, covering
more than 524 hectares and with a
population of more than 245,000
as of the latest census1.

1 Melican, N.R. (2013) Largest barangay in

PH can’t live up to ‘new hope’ image; split
pushed. Inquirer.net. Retrieved from https://

The War on the Poor
Extrajudicial Killings and Their Effects on Urban Poor Families and Communities

Most of its residents were ‘reloca- 19. These are some of the most Four of the five documented vic-
tees’ from Tondo in Manila, Com- impoverished areas of the city. The tims in Navotas City were from the
monwealth Avenue in Quezon rest of the EJK victims in Manila relocation site on the reclaimed
City, and the city of San Juan. On were residents of Balic-Balic in the parts of Barangay Tanza, now
the other hand, Tala covers five district of Sampaloc near Quezon known as Tanza 2. One was from
barangays with a total population City, where more than 25 alleged Brgy. North Bay Boulevard South
of more than 12,000 (2015 census). EJK cases have already been re- (NBBS), now known as NBBS
Nine alleged EJK victims were ported. Dagat-dagatan.
documented in Bagong Silang;
three in Tala. Most of them were In Quezon City, five of the 19 doc- In Malabon City, all of the docu-
migrants from other cities. The re- umented victims were from Brgy. mented victims lived in Brgy. Cat-
maining victims in Caloocan City Payatas, a barangay north of Tul- mon, one of the most impover-
were from Camarin (2), Bagong lahan River where a number of in- ished barangays in the city.
Barrio (1), and Heroes del 96 (1). formal settlements can be found.
PhilRights also documented al- Brgy. Gaya-Gaya, where all of the
In the city of Manila, nine of the leged EJK victims in Old Balara documented victims in San Jose
documented 13 victims lived in (1) and Holy Spirit (1). A victim of del Monte City, Bulacan resided,
Tondo: three of whom were from frustrated EJK is also from Quezon is another EJK hotspot. A large
Parola, an informal settlement City. portion of the barangay is home
near the estuary of Pasig River; to ‘relocatees’ from Navotas City.
two lived in a tenement house in The relocation areas of Brgy. Batia The families of the documented
northern Tondo; two were brothers in Bocaue, Bulacan are the hot- victims are still tied to the fishing
living in a small house along Eu- spots of killings in the municipality industry in Navotas City, causing
seco Street; one lived on a foot- (six documented victims). Another them to travel far southwest on a
bridge in Delpan; and one in an EJK case was documented in Brgy. daily basis for their livelihood.
informal settlement in Barangay Wakas.

The War on the Poor
Extrajudicial Killings and Their Effects on Urban Poor Families and Communities

Modalities and Patterns

Aside from knowing who the victims are, what they do for a living, and
where they come from, this analysis also seeks to reveal some of the
most striking patterns and modalities of violations, as mined from the
details of the incidents. This is to show when and where they usually
happen, who the perpetrators are, the common narratives propagated
by the official reports, the usual methods of killing, the other violations
committed before, during, and after the killing, and other factors that
compound the suffering experienced by the families of victims.

One of the trademarks of the ‘war on drugs’ is the release of drug watch
lists. These are lists of names of individuals alleged to be involved in
the drug trade. In February 2018 for example, the Philippine National
Police (PNP) released 11,000 names which, according to them, was vali-
dated by the agency’s Directorate for Intelligence (DI)2. These watch lists
are questionable because the methods in coming up with the lists have
been arbitrary, not evidence-based, and at times, dictated by the whims
or caprices of authorities at the local level. Armed with these dubious
lists, police authorities then visit those in the watch list to convince them
to stop their drug use or involvement in the drug trade and to surrender
to the authorities. According to the Ateneo Policy Center, 22.9% of the
EJK cases reported online involved persons who were also known to be
in the local watch lists.

The informants for 11 of the victims

said that they personally saw the
watchlists; the rest were informed
by their neighbors and friends who
said that they saw the watch list.
Four of the victims were visited by
police authorities; of these four,
three surrendered to the police
and underwent some form of re-
habilitation programs and activi-
ties such as street sweeping

2 Malonzo, T.A. (2018) Validated drug watch-

list contains 11, 000 names. SunStarPhilip-
pines. Retrieved from https://www.sunstar.

The War on the Poor
Extrajudicial Killings and Their Effects on Urban Poor Families and Communities

When were they killed?

Note: There is no information on

the month of killing for one victim.

37 of the documented
killings happened at night
while the remaining 21
perpetrated between
midnight and sunrise.
Note: There is no information on the time
of killing for the two remaining victims.

Twenty one (36.21%) of the victims were with other people (other family mem-
bers, relatives, friends), engaged in mundane activities (watching television,
having conversation) when the perpetrators came to kill them. Ten (17.24%)
were asleep in their respective homes or in their pedicabs. Five (8.62%) of the
victims were working when they were killed. There is no information on the
activities of seven victims (12.07%) due to the absence of witnesses and the
lack of knowledge of the informant.

The War on the Poor
Extrajudicial Killings and Their Effects on Urban Poor Families and Communities

Distribution of documented killings

by city and municipality
Almost all of the killings happened in the
respective territorial confines of the cities
and municipalities where the victims resided.

In Rizal, the lone documented vic-

tim was killed in Cainta which is a
town adjacent to his hometown of
Taytay. A victim from Navotas City
died while in the custody of Mala-
bon police.

Similar to the geographic cluster-

ing of the victims’ place of resi-
dence, most of the acts of killing
were perpetrated in impoverished
areas such as the informal settle-
ments of Tondo, Rizal and Cat-
mon, Malabon, relocation sites of
Gaya-Gaya, San Jose del Monte
City, Tanza, Navotas City, and Ba-
tia, Bocaue City. In Caloocan City,
Bagong Silang and Tala are the red
zones for killings.

Aside from the prevalent poverty

and lack of livelihood opportuni-
ties, these communities are like-
wise identified by authorities as
hotspots of drug abuse, drug trade
and petty crimes. It is easier for
police authorities to conduct their
operations without any objection
from the stakeholders of the com-

The War on the Poor
Extrajudicial Killings and Their Effects on Urban Poor Families and Communities

Location of killing
Subdivisions and gated communities, on the other hand, are
more difficult to penetrate due to the physical barrier and
the steps that the police have to undertake in order to avoid
violating the residents’ rights and privileges.

Note: There is no information on the loca-

tion of killing for the two remaining victims.

The War on the Poor
Extrajudicial Killings and Their Effects on Urban Poor Families and Communities

Context of killing

1 Police operations and under police custody

Police operations, including serving of warrants and sweep searches,
constitute lethal and non-lethal activities of police forces. Under Phil-
Rights’ documentation, alleged EJKs are categorized as ‘having occurred
during police operations’ if:

a) Police authorities, whether in official uniform or not, introduce them-

selves as such during the course of the operation
b) The police authorities acknowledge (to the media or in official records)
that the incident was a police operation

Incidents involving such directly allege the police officers who conduct-
ed the operations as the perpetrators. Interestingly, there are contradic-
tions between what the police reports state and what the families say
about the conduct of the operations. For example, a case may be report-
ed as a buy-bust operation while the family would assert that the police
entered their house without any warrant or sufficient acceptable cause
except to kill their target.

2 Operations believed to be conducted by the

police as alleged by our informants
Apart from police operations, many killings were also committed un-
der operations by unidentifiable perpetrators believed to be police of-
ficers as alleged by the informants. The informants, being the witnesses
themselves, claim that the perpetrators are police officers based on their
physical attributes and on the witnesses/informants’ familiarity with po-
lice authorities operating within their communities.

The War on the Poor
Extrajudicial Killings and Their Effects on Urban Poor Families and Communities

Operations conducted by unidentifiable
assailants and riding-in-tandems assassins
Another group of perpetrators involves vigilantes and killers riding in tan-
dem. The perpetrators of these cases are usually masked and dressed
in black or dark-colored clothing. There are also non-police perpetrators
who wear civilian clothes and/or do not hide their faces. The alarming
surge in the occurrence of such operations, especially those that have
been conducted against those suspected of involvement in drugs, has
led most informants to conclude that these unidentifiable killers could
be working under the auspices of the government.

4 Operations conducted by barangay

officials and personnel
A fourth group of perpetrators include barangay officials, staff, and

The War on the Poor
Extrajudicial Killings and Their Effects on Urban Poor Families and Communities

Number of documented victims

by type of operation

The War on the Poor
Extrajudicial Killings and Their Effects on Urban Poor Families and Communities

Caloocan City police officers (9) committed most of the documented lethal police
operations, followed by City of Manila (6) and Quezon City (5), accounting for 76.92%
of all the documented killings.

The two barangay personnel alleged to be perpetrators both work for Barangay Tanza
local government unit in Navotas City.

Riding-in-tandem assailants comprise 43.33% of the documented unidentifiable per-

petrators, most of whom conducted their operation in Caloocan City (5) and City of
Manila (5). The other sub-category of unidentifiable assailants are those masked kill-
ers who usually break into the victim’s house to perpetrate the killling. They comprise
56.67% of all the documented unidentifiable perpetrators, with victims from Bocaue,
Caloocan City, City of Manila, Navotas City, and Quezon City.

The War on the Poor
Extrajudicial Killings and Their Effects on Urban Poor Families and Communities

Manner of killing
Use of excessive force in killing is evident
among police officers.

One victim had 16 gunshot

wounds; he died in an oper-
ation that informants allege
was conducted by Caloo-
can police officers.
The purpose of using a median figure in this analysis is to set a da-
ta-based numerical boundary from which overkilling, attempted or not,
can be deduced. One can argue that the use of more than one bullet to
stop the target from running away or from fighting with the arresting po-
lice officers is already enough to identify signs of undue force. The use
of excessive force is not allowed as stipulated in Rule 7 (Use of Force
during Police Operations) of the Revised Philippine National Police Op-
erational Procedures unless it is reasonable to do so given the number
of aggressors, nature and characteristic of the weapon used, physical
condition, size and other circumstances to include the place and loca-
tion of the assault. Based on the narratives of the informants, none of the
cases satisfied the need to use excessive force.

The War on the Poor
Extrajudicial Killings and Their Effects on Urban Poor Families and Communities

Gunshot wounds

The figure shows that the 19 (32.76%) of the

victims sustained chest wounds. Seven-
Note: Location of wounds for three victims teen (29.31%) had gunshot wounds in the
were not identified. abdominopelvic region.

The War on the Poor
Extrajudicial Killings and Their Effects on Urban Poor Families and Communities

Other HRVs prior to killing

Some of the documented victims had experienced other human rights violations
before the killing. Three of them had been arrested and detained illegally; one of
them was killed the same day after his release and one was detained one month
prior to his killing. The remaining victim was allegedly killed while in detention.
Another ten victims had suffered from torture before being killed, as evidenced by
the bruises and marks all over their body and head.

The War on the Poor
Extrajudicial Killings and Their Effects on Urban Poor Families and Communities

The families who witnessed these violations also Seventeen victims allegedly engaged in gunfight with
experienced some forms of violations. Two com- the police officers during police operations. The police
mon-law wives and one daughter were illegally reports, which were the main documentary sources of
arrested and detained after the victims were killed the media for their news reports, state that the victims
during police operations. fired first. The informants, however, assert that these
reports are without basis.
To justify the use of excessive force and that killing
was indeed necessary, authorities are purveying the The official narrative is that the victims (1) were involved
“self-defense” or nanlaban narrative: that the victim in illegal drugs and (2) engaged authorities in a shoot-
initiated the gun fight with the police officers, and out. Guns, usually found on the victims’ hands, are
the latter were forced to defend themselves. How- used as evidence to show that they attacked or fought
ever, the saturation of the self-defense or nanlaban back. The presence of drugs on the site is used to link
argument in media and police reports has prompted the victims to the drug trade.
people to question their claims.

Evidences recovered from the victims

were guns and drugs.

Most of the informants assert that

the evidence found on the sites
of killing are not those of the vic-
tim’s, saying that they were too
poor to afford guns and drugs. For
the police operations and some
of the operations believed to be
conducted by police officers and
by unidentifiable assailants, the in-
formants claimed that the victims
were framed and that these piec-
es of evidence were planted by
the perpetrators.

The War on the Poor
Extrajudicial Killings and Their Effects on Urban Poor Families and Communities

Another modality revealed from the data is the killing of the wrong person either be-
cause of mistaken identity or the practice of ‘palit-ulo’ whereby the victim has been
substituted for another target just so the alleged quota requirement could be fulfilled.
Four of the documented victims fall under palit-ulo; one of them died in a police op-

Some of the death certificates do not state the true cause of death of the victims. One
documented victim killed in an operation believed to be conducted by police officers
had “pneumonia” as cause of death; another victim killed by unidentifiable assailants
had “cardiac arrest.” Falsifying the death certificate is one way by which EJKs are be-
ing erased from official records. It makes it easier to deny that extrajudicial killings are
being perpetrated.

The surge in killings has been generally beneficial for funeral parlors, especially those
that are accredited by the PNP Crime Laboratory. The families of the victims have the
right to retrieve the bodies at reasonable costs should they wish to transfer the bod-
ies to their preferred funeral parlors. However, there have been documented cases
involving families being forced to pay exorbitant fees from Php 25,000 to Php 50,000
for services, including embalming and autopsies, whether or not these services have
been performed.

The War on the Poor
Extrajudicial Killings and Their Effects on Urban Poor Families and Communities

Part II
Life after Death:
The Impact of EJKs to the Families Left Behind

As established in the first part of this report, this study’s documented

victims and their families already suffered from impoverished condi-
tions prior to the victims’ deaths. Most of the victims belong to an ex-
tended household and have carried the burden of intergenerational,
multi-faceted problems rooted in their disempowered state and lack
of opportunities for economic and social growth.

However, it must be emphasized that an EJK death does not end the
human rights violation. In fact, it is an inciting incident to a host of in-
terrelated negative conditions that have gravely undermined the eco-
nomic and social rights of the families left behind.

While there have been various attempts to verify the number of kill-
ings and their patterns and modalities (presented in the first part of
this report), there is still no comprehensive examination of the impact
of an extrajudicial killing to the families left behind. This report, a sum-
mary of interviews and engagements with the victims’ families con-
ducted over a period of one year, reveals the many ways in which the
so-called war on drugs has set in motion widespread suffering and
human rights violations. The names mentioned in this report are alias-
es to ensure their anonymity and safety.

The War on the Poor
Extrajudicial Killings and Their Effects on Urban Poor Families and Communities

Immediate Effects to the Family

Mrs. Rodriguez earns money by manually cutting up rubber slippers. After
meeting her daily quota around midnight, she asked her son to buy her
food. She fell asleep, waiting for the son that never returned. What neither
mother nor son realized was that this would be the last time they would
see each other.

In the early morning, Mrs. Rodriguez ventured outside and met a neighbor
who told her that the police took her son along with a few others during an
anti-tambay operation. She looked for him in the police station, in nearby
hospitals, and in the barangay hall to no avail. A security guard in a nearby
hospital then shared that he saw a young man fitting her son’s description.
This young man was brought to the hospital by a police patrol, the security
guard said. He told her to look for her son in a funeral parlor known to take
in the remains of those killed in police operations.

There, after 14 hours of frantic search, she found her son, lying on the
morgue, lifeless.

Mrs. Rodriguez’s story stands alongside many others: of elderly mothers

and widows who took on the task of searching for their missing sons and
husbands. These men, victims of the bloodbath of the anti-illegal drugs
campaign, are found cold and lifeless, if not immediately on the streets
where they were killed, in dumping grounds of human bodies and in the
morgues of funeral parlors dotting urban poor communities. The women
stay alive, but their tragedy has only begun.

The War on the Poor
Extrajudicial Killings and Their Effects on Urban Poor Families and Communities

Even when their loved ones’ bodies are found, the women must immedi-
ately deal with the high costs of funeral and burial services. In the midst
of their grief, they become susceptible to overpriced services if not direct
harassment from unscrupulous funeral parlors who have found lucrative
business in the deaths arising from President Duterte’s so-called war on

Mrs. Rodriguez, whose earnings are way below the minimum wage, has no
means to afford the Php 50,000 fee of the funeral parlor. Her one recourse
is the abuloy—small monetary offerings of visitors to her son’s wake. Alas,
nightly police presence, indeed harassment, according to the family, has
discouraged neighbors and relatives from coming into their tiny home to
pay their respects. Mrs. Rodriguez’s only choice is to stretch the wake’s
schedule until they can scrounge up enough money to meet the demands
of the funeral parlor. Almost four weeks into the wake, and after much beg-
ging by Mrs. Rodriguez and her family, the funeral parlor agreed to com-
plete the service despite not having paid for all their demands. On the day
of burial, the funeral parlor did not show up, and in fact refused to send out
their funeral hearse, insisting that the family comply with all their financial

This was an appalling indignity by any measure. But Mrs. Rodriguez, who
was initially reluctant to seek justice, has found the strength she needs to
demand accountability for her son’s death.

The War on the Poor
Extrajudicial Killings and Their Effects on Urban Poor Families and Communities

Livelihood and Income of the Family

Of the 58 documented cases of extrajudicial killings, 49 of them were the prima-
ry financial providers of the family. 95% of these primary financial providers were
male individuals supporting their elderly parents, wives and children, siblings, and
in some cases, their nieces and nephews. After their deaths, the burden of taking up
the income-producing role fell to their widows and elderly mothers.

At least half of the widows and elderly women left behind resorted to unregulated
below-minimum wage employment such as working in canteens and doing laun-
dry. A few, however, have resorted to sex work, according to their family members.

These limited employment opportunities are typically due to the women’s low ed-
ucational background and lack of work experience as most them were limited and
restricted to household chores before the death of the male financial provider.
As a canteen helper they would work for almost 12 hours, earning an average of 150
pesos per workday. Meanwhile, most of the elderly women who resorted to accept-
ing laundry work showed a decline in physical well-being that further affected their
capability to take on the work.

Although there are government

programs and services aimed at
providing financial assistance and
livelihood for poor families, the
application process is difficult for
mothers like Sarah. She has four
children, aged 4 to 13 years old.
Since her husband’s death, she
has worked as a canteen help
every day of the week, earning
Php 200 a day which is spent for
their daily expenses. Given her low
wage, Sarah cannot spare a work-
ing day to line up and process her
documents to qualify for govern-
ment aid.

The problem of access to govern-

ment assistance for new bread-
winners like Sarah has further de-
clined their ability to augment their
family’s economic needs and has
restricted them from providing
a sufficient standard of living for
themselves and their dependents.
Given these hindering factors, new
breadwinners like Sarah have to
face the long-term challenge of
earning while providing care for
their young children.

The War on the Poor
Extrajudicial Killings and Their Effects on Urban Poor Families and Communities

Access to education for children from grade school to college is already

Education difficult for most of these families; an EJK-related death further exacer-
bates their struggle. For children who are able to continue their studies,
of the Children many have begun to experience bullying within the school because of
the stigma attached to the death of their family member.

Anna Marie, a 12-year-old Grade 7 student, lost her father during a po-
lice operation in their barangay. The child had already been dealing with
the loss of a father figure from her parents’ separation. Her father’s vio-
lent death intensified her feelings of loss. According to her mother, Anna
Marie and her siblings enjoyed a good relationship with their father de-
spite their problems as a couple. Even when the parents separated, the
father visited the children and spent time to bond with them.

After her father’s death, Anna Marie’ s mother started receiving frequent
school calls because the child’s teachers observed disturbing behav-
ior from the child. Her classmates were aware of the case of her father
which made it even more difficult for Anna Marie to adjust. She began
showing aggressive behavior towards her classmates which her mother
believes is her daughter’s way of coping.

Anna Marie’s mother is very concerned because her child’s behavior

is affecting her school performance, something which has not been a
problem before the death of her father.

Another case is that of Roman, a nine-year-old boy who lost both of

his parents from a police operation. His 62-year-old aunt now has cus-
tody of Roman. The aunt, who also has children and grandchildren of
her own, has no stable means of income. The child almost had to quit
schooling because of lack of financial means.
Anne Marie and Roman are but two of the many children whose educa-
tion are now suffering because of the sudden loss of financial support,
of bullying and harassment in school, and of trauma.

The War on the Poor
Extrajudicial Killings and Their Effects on Urban Poor Families and Communities

Shelter, Safety and Security

With unsafe streets, the only remaining bastion of security is the family home. Unfor-
tunately, this is not the case for the 27 families whose family members were shot dead
inside their homes. For these families, their homes have also become a site of horror
and tragedy, serving as a daily reminder of the loss they experienced. Outside, many
of the family members attested that they still constantly hear about or even witness
masked men entering their neighborhood. The sight of police and their activities, to
them, now represent death rather than security.

Allelie, now a single mother to two young boys, reported a frightening encounter con-
cerning her children. An unidentified person, pretending to be a relative, attempted
to fetch her two sons from school. Out of fear, Allelie decided to relocate to another
community where no one knows the family story and where she believes they will be
safer. Despite relocation costs adding to the burden for the new breadwinner, Allelie
sought to move as soon as she could.

While most of the families remained in their homes—despite their lingering fears—four
families chose to relocate to the provinces or other cities for fear of the perpetrators
coming back to attack them.

The War on the Poor
Extrajudicial Killings and Their Effects on Urban Poor Families and Communities

Health of the Family

The families’ health, especially that of the elderly and children—already
compromised because of their economically disadvantaged positions—
saw pronounced declines following the death of their family members.

The killing of Angel Roa—he was among the 27 documented individuals in

this study who was killed inside their home—led to many health problems
for his mother. During the wake, Mrs. Roa refused to sleep and even eat.
She also developed an infection in one of her eyelids that turned into a
cyst. It was also discovered that she had a lung condition which meant that
she had to be confined in the hospital frequently. The Roa Family attributes
these health issues to Mrs. Roa’s grief. A year and half after her son’s death,
Mrs. Roa also passed away.

Juan, one of the few who survived the attempted extrajudicial killing,
sought and was given protective custody by the Commission on Human
Rights (CHR). During this period, his elementary-age children was left with
his infirm parents whom have no means of subsistence. In his absence, his
parents and children had to adjust; for instance, skipping meals because
they can only afford one kilo of rice per day.

Having been the primary breadwinner and feeling guilty that his elder-
ly parents and children are enduring daily hunger, he requested to leave
CHR’s custody. During his absence, his parents and his sons had to adjust
their meals, for example, skipping breakfast, because they can only afford
one kilo of rice per day.

The inability to meet the families’ nutritional needs is one of the leading
causse why health problems occur among families like that of Juan and
Angel Roa. The loss of a breadwinner greatly affects the already poor
health conditions of the family.

The War on the Poor
Extrajudicial Killings and Their Effects on Urban Poor Families and Communities

Psychosocial Effects on Children, Spouse and

Other Family Members

Coping is a long process of grief, anger, and acceptance, especially in instances of violent and sudden deaths
of family members. The killing of a family member is a triggering event that caused a shift in the families’
functioning as a unit and as individuals. Not only do they suffer from the loss of a loved one; they also have to
endure the disempowering stigma of having a drug-related killing marked against their family.


The death of a parent, a sibling,

or any member of the family is an
already difficult situation for any
child to process and often affects
the child’s growth and develop-
ment, but the effects are markedly
worse when the family member
was killed in relation to the gov-
ernment’s so-called war on drugs.

The prevalence of violence, the

concept of revenge, and the cul-
ture of fear that envelops their daily
lives all have direct effects on the
developmental stages of children.
This then affects the formation
of their values and principles as
young human beings. As children
experience first-hand the loss of
a parent, a sibling, or a close rela-
tive, they present changes in their
temperaments and behaviors.

Every widowed mother interviewed by the PhilRights team, acknowl-

edged significant changes in their children’s behavior: Some have be-
come verbally and physically aggressive, with short tempers even dur-
ing play time. Children as young as four years old suddenly preferred
staying out in the streets with their peers instead of at home where they
might be reminded of their fathers’ loss.

The mothers acknowledge their children’s need for therapy and coun-
seling. However, they are not fully aware how to access such services
for their children. In fact, out of the 72 orphaned children identified in this
study, only 12 children were able to access some form of psychosocial

The War on the Poor
Extrajudicial Killings and Their Effects on Urban Poor Families and Communities

Spouse losses have not been fully processed and they still ex-
perience days where they still feel the pain of losing a
As mentioned in the first part of this report, most of helpmate. Because of their multiple roles in their fami-
the spouses left behind are the wives, who then had lies, they can only acknowledge their need for psycho-
to take on the additional role of a father figure just to social help without actually seeking it.
maintain the balance in the household. Aside from
their original roles as homemaker, mother, and com- As of this report’s writing, only four widows have ac-
munity member, they also have had to transition to- cessed some form of psychosocial services.
wards becoming the breadwinner of the family. This
also meant that they have had to put their grief aside Other Family Members
and put up a strong front in order to make a living
and support their children. Parents and siblings suffer as much loss as the wives
and children of the victims. Filipino families have close
Three widows from the same community with chil- ties and these are particularly stronger among urban
dren as young as four years old and as old as 12 met poor families who have inextricable emotional and
through an initiative of their parish to bring together socioeconomic links among their members. In the 58
widows and elderly mothers whose sons have also documented cases, all families exhibited close family
died due to extrajudicial killings. The group, loosely ties, with several victims and their families who lived
formed, became a support system; the three wid- within a compound with either spouse’s parents. The
ows have said that they found strength in their com- deaths, therefore, caused profound sorrow for their
mon experience which has allowed them to carry on parents, siblings and extended family members.
with their day-to-day homelife situations. Yet their

The War on the Poor
Extrajudicial Killings and Their Effects on Urban Poor Families and Communities

Deprivation of Right to Family

among Orphaned Children

Hayden, a 17-year-old Senior High School student, died when his simi-
larly aged partner was just a few months away from giving birth. Hayden,
according to the family, was killed instead of the real target because the
police were not able to catch the alleged drug pusher. According to his
partner, Hayden had many plans for their newly formed family. Having
grown up without a biological father, Hayden vowed to his partner that
this would never happen to their child.

Not only did Hayden lose his chance to be a father to this child, the child
also lost the chance to be cared for by his father. Hayden’s partner is
now a widowed teenage mother.

In our identified cases, 72 children now have to endure the loss of a par-

The War on the Poor
Extrajudicial Killings and Their Effects on Urban Poor Families and Communities

Effects to the Community

Extrajudicial killings have resulted in changes in neighborhood dynamics, marked
by distrust and distance. In a few areas, the opposite has also occurred, with com-
munity support galvanizing around families of the slain. (But this has only come
about because of a strong and sustained support system from the Church and
other civil society organizations.) The families that remained in their neighbor-
hoods described their neighbors becoming distant and unapproachable. Al-
though there were no particular threats or attacks from the neighbors, the families
felt that besides losing a family member they also lost the immediate support
system that is their neighborhood.

Less common, but still important to highlight is the case of The Most Holy Trinity
Parish in the community of Balic-Balic, Sampaloc, Manila. The parish formed a
Human Rights Ministry that offered a safe space for families of victims of extraju-
dicial killings in the area. This initiative enabled the families to provide support for
each other and develop bonds out of their shared experiences.

The War on the Poor
Extrajudicial Killings and Their Effects on Urban Poor Families and Communities

The War on the Poor
Extrajudicial Killings and Their Effects on Urban Poor Families and Communities