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Child Rights Advocates calls for the immediate release of the three illegally detained children in Quezon Province

The Children’s Rehabilitation Center (CRC) strongly condemns the elements of the 74th Infantry Battallion of the Armed Forces of the Philippines for the illegal arrest and detention of three children in Quezon.

On March 22, 2012, Elmer Desuyo, 17 years old, Rey Rodrigo, 17 years old and Reynaldo Delos Santos, also 17 years old were looking for work in coconut farms in Sitio Tagbakan Brgy. Pansoy San Andres Quezon when some men not in uniforms carrying high powered rifles pointed guns at them and arrested them for no reason. After a while, the armed men introduced themselves as elements of 74th Infantry Battalion based in Sitio Malamig, Sto. Nino Quezon. 

The families of the three minors were immediately informed by the military, claiming the three minors were caught after an encounter happened between soldiers and the New People’s Army. While Lt. Col. Dennis Perez, commanding officer of the Philippine Army's 74th Infantry Battalion (IB), released to the media that the three minors were members of NPA extorting money from residents.

After learning what happened to their sons, the family together with Karapatan immediately went to the company headquarters based in Sitio Malamig, Sto Nino, Quezon but they were not allowed to see the children. 

The three minors are now detained in the Quezon Provincial Jail and were charged with illegal possession of firearms. Since the illegal arrest, the families have not yet seen the three minors as the military refused to present them. The families denied the claims of the AFP. They are calling for the immediate release of the three minors because they are civilians and farm workers only. 

“This is another form of attack of military operations on civilians in rural areas. Children remained an easy target of military atrocities; they were harassed, arrested and detained, presented to the media as rescued child warriors and charged with different fabricated cases. The effects of such attacks to the well being of these children and their families are undeniably severe”, Jacquiline Ruiz said.

 She said that this is another case that unmasks Aquino’s Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP) aka Oplan Bayanihan. “The AFP actually contradicts the IPSP’s supposed peace and development program in rural communities.”

CRC also challenged President Aquino, as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, to stand for children’s rights by immediately releasing the three minors and punish those who are responsible for this child rights violation. “Most importantly, we are demanding the President scrap of Oplan Bayanihan and promote genuine measures that respect human rights”, Ruiz ended.