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Child rights group condemns state forces’ aerial strikes against civilians, demands Aquino to scrap Oplan Bayanihan

 “We strongly denounce the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP) for the blatant rights violations caused by their indiscriminate firing and airstrikes against the civilian communities in Sagada, Mountain Province. The incident did not only wreak destruction to the environment but also inflicted psychological trauma among the children and indigenous people of Cordillera,” said Children’s Rehabilitation Center (CRC) Executive Director Jacquiline Ruiz.

According to reports from Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA)-Karapatan, the combined elements of PNP and AFP launched combat operations in the once declared “peace zone” Sagada as part of their pursuit against New People’s Army (NPA) last August 29-30. The report indicated that the state security forces callously dropped undetermined number of bombs within the Demang Mountain range, affecting the municipalities of Sagada, Besao, Sadanga and Bontoc in Mountain Province and Tubo, Abra.

“It was the second series of airstrikes launched by the combined forces of PNP and AFP operating in the Cordillera region against the NPA, the first took place in Maligcong, Abra. It is very heartbreaking to know that both incidents only targeted communities of civilians which caused severe trauma on children marked by their disrupted routines, sleeplessness, nightmare and constant fear. We also received reports that elements belonging to 50th IBPA headed by Col. Sibayan used Aguid Elementary School as their military barracks,” Ruiz added.

Furthermore, the bombings brought environmental and economic destruction as their farms, crops, animals, livelihood and even the food and water supplies were also destroyed.

“We are enraged by these incidents. With the military’s frustrated pursuit against NPA, they pointed their guns and bombs to anyone, putting no distinction between civilians and rebels. These sadistically inhumane airstrikes are nothing but the true fascist character of the Aquino administration highlighted by his high record of human rights violations and impunity. We demand the Aquino administration for the immediate military pull-out in civilian communities and make the AFP and PNP accountable,” Ruiz ended. ####