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Child Rights Group condems EJK, urges Aquino to take action

Children’s Rehabilitation Center (CRC) condemns the indiscriminate strafing incident conducted by the elements of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) that instantly killed an 8-year old boy and wounded two children in Purok 6, Sitio Kidaraan, Barangay Anitapan, Mabini, Compostela Valley last April 3.

According to CRC Executive Director Jacquiline Ruiz, CRC Mindanao based office participated in the independent probe spearheaded by Karapatan Southern Mindanao Region (SMR) that repudiate military’s claims that these children were caught during an armed encounter between New People’s Army (NPA).

The evidences gathered clearly showed that about 18 elements of 71st Infantry Battalion Alpha Company led by 2nd Lt. Llorca indiscriminately fired at the three innocent peasant children. Victims’ accounts also stated that there was no presence of the NPA in the area and they only heard seven gunshots from the military,” Ruiz said.

The victims were later identified by their relatives as Roque Antivo, of Sitio Kidaraan, Barangay Maskareg, who sustained a gunshot wound in his left chest which immediately killed him while the other victims were “Jonas”, 13 and “Alvin”, 12.

According to Karapatan-SMR Jonas was wounded in his chin and left shoulder while Alvin was hit with shrapnel in his left cheek. As of press time, while in the hospital, Jonas is guarded by military men from10th ID IBPA which harassed the family.

With the failed efforts of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in smashing the revolutionary armed group New People’s Army, in its two-phased counter-insurgency Program Oplan Bayanihan, it resorts to deliberate actions of harassing, torturing and indiscriminately firing at civilian communities suspected to be rebel-influenced areas. The inconceivable fact is that children are not spared,” Ruiz added.

She stressed that a soldier from the same military unit was responsible for the killing of Sunshine Jabines, a 7-year old girl in Pantukan town last September 2, 2011.

The killing of Antivo sets the total of sixteen (16) children victim of extrajudicial killing (EJK) perpetrated by state forces under the administration of President Benigno Aquino III. In most cases, the AFP claimed the incidents as legitimate encounters and/or tagged the children victims as child soldier/warrior to escape their accountability.

As the Chief Executive of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, we urge the Aquino government to investigate and make the AFP accountable to the incident. In addition, we are calling for the immediate scrapping of Oplan Bayanihan as it already demonstrated its anti-people, anti-human rights and anti-children character,” Ruiz ended.###