SF CHRP (San Francisco Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines) is a San Francisco based human rights advocacy group. Latest news and views on human rights in the Philippines.
Pinoy Weekly journalist Macky Macaspac reports that child rights and human rights groups in the Philippines are pushing the United Nations to do more about the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) continuous abuse of children:
Child rights advocates challenged the United Nations to look into the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) as perpetrator of human rights violations, in reaction to the latest UN report entitled “Grave violations committed against children in 22 situations of concern” released last June 12.
[T]he Children’s Rehabilitation Center (CRC), an institution catering to children victims of human rights violations and a member of the Country Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting of the UN, is not satisfied with the report and the concerns raised by the UN.
The cases we documented and verified, through fact-finding missions and similar activities, that there is a pattern of violations of human rights by the government troops. Are the persistence of the AFP’s children’s rights violations and its effects on hundreds of children in the country not enough to include them in the UN’s list of shame?” said Jacquiline Ruiz, executive director of CRC in a statement.
The group said that violations committed by military reached an alarming point. In 2012 alone, the group documented and verified 12 cases of killing, four (4) children used as guides in military operations, 10 children arrested, detained and tagged as members of the New People’s Army (NPA) and hundreds affected by the continuing attacks and encampment of military in schools.
Ruiz also cited a case of a 16-year old boy from Trento, Agusan del Sur who sustained a wound in his left thigh after the soldiers from 25th and 75th IB dropped bombs on their community and later was arrested after he got to the evacuation center where his family and other community members took refuge. Ruiz alleged that the boy was photographed and presented to the media, branding him as member of the NPA.
Meanwhile, Gabriela Women’s Party-list Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan called on the government to proactively address the use of children in armed conflict by initiating moves towards the resumption of peace negotiations, the prosecution of child rights violators and the immediate junking of the government’s counter insurgency operation Oplan Bayanihan.
Children will continue to become victims amid intensified clashes and military operations. Not only will they be used as shields or recruited as guides, worse, as Aquino’s AFP continues its implementation of Oplan Bayanihan, more children will fall victims to indiscriminate firing and community blockades.” expressed Ilagan.
Ilagan also stressed that Aquino government should ensure that military elements found responsible for violation of children’s rights are made accountable.
Military and government officials on Tuesday said that it is not their policy to use children in military operations.
“As a matter of policy, the AFP does not use children as guides during military operations so as not to endanger them,” said AFP Spokesperson Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala, in media reports. For its part, Malacanang said that they will conduct probe into the allegation as stated in the UN report.
The Aquino government has no further response but to ‘look into allegations’ and recite their policy of non-employment of children in their military operations while destroying lives of the victims, and perpetrators remained unpunished and continued violations of children’s rights tell a different story,” said Ruiz, in reaction to Malacanang’s response to the report.