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Children’s rights defenders decry Pnoy’s statement during the 77th Founding Anniversary of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). He reiterated in his statement the AFPs role in a democratic society, “Defend the nation and serve only one Boss—the people, nothing else.”

The Children’s Rehabilitation Center (CRC) is a non-government organization providing psycho-social services for children victims of human rights violations. According to Jacquiline Ruiz, CRC’s Executive Director, “The statement is in contrast with the glaring reality of massive violations under the term of Mr. Aquino, affecting or directly victimizing children.”

The CRC has documented in over two years of the Aquino administration (14) cases of extra-judicial killings, (18) frustrated killings, (15) illegal arrests and detention, (13) cases of torture, (4) rape and sexual assault and numerous number of attacks on schools.

 “Even with the escalating cases of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, attacks on schools and massive military deployment infesting rural poor communities, Mr. Aquino still have the guts to arrogantly claim improving human rights situation in the Philippines and cover up the blood-tainted AFP,” Ruiz said.

Rey Rodrigo, a 17 year-old boy farmer, was tortured, arrested, branded as child soldier and filed with trumped up charges in San Andres, Quezon Province last 22nd of March. Though the charges were dismissed, Rodrigo is still in the custody of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), unable to go back to his normal life and join his family this Christmas.

Ruiz also emphasized the continuous injustice felt by families and victims of Pnoy’s predecessor. “Perpetrators like the notorious butcher Jovito Palparan are still at large while battalions of soldiers continue to wreak havoc on the civilian populace.”

Under the deceptive Oplan Bayanihan, the AFP used the “peace and development slogan” in order to conduct civic-military operations in communities while sowing terror among the community members, including children. The promise of a righteous path (daang matuwid) proved to be a mere rhetoric.

CRC and other child rights advocates urge and challenge President Aquino as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, to do necessary investigation on child rights violations as well as other state-perpetrated violence and to punish the perpetrators. “We are demanding the Aquino government to put an end to the culture of impunity and respect and uphold children’s rights and human rights,” Ruiz ended. ###