A 3-Year-Old Child Is the Philippine Drug War’s Latest Victim

Her mother disputes the police’s official statement.
The casket of 3-year-old Myca Ulpina is pictured during her wake in Rodriguez, Rizal province, Philippines July 5, 2019. Ulpina was shot during what police said was a sting operation intended to arrest her father, who they said was armed and had used the child as a human shield. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez

Among the thousands of lives lost during Duterte’s drug war, plenty were children, like 17-year-old Kian delos Santos, whose death triggered the firing of the entire Caloocan police force and compelled the Philippine Senate to launch a legislative inquiry.

On June 29, another child’s life was taken: three-year-old Kateleen Myca Ulpina who died in her home during an anti-drug operation in Rizal Province. Myca would have been four on July 31st.


Philippine National Police spokesperson Colonel Bernard Banac said in an interview that the girl was caught in the crossfire between the police and the suspect, her father. He died with her uncle and one policeman.

Banac said her father used her as a human shield—a claim that Myca’s mother disputes.

“When the situation is like this, people get caught by surprise…there is the tendency for the suspect to resist arrest,” Banac said.

Myca’s mother, however, tells a different story. She said police broke in and smashed their windows while they were sleeping, and that they didn't provide any warrant of arrest or any legal papers. While she and the couple’s three other children rushed upstairs, Myca stayed by her father’s side.

“I’m saying this again. Myca was not used as a human shield,” Myca’s mother told the press during the wake.

In conjunction with the release of a multimedia feature about the children affected by the drug war, the Human Rights Watch called for the adoption of a resolution requesting the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to investigate this crisis.

The government’s official death toll is at 6,600 people. Last December, however, the Commission on Human Rights places that count to at least 27,000.