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Child victim of military atrocities visited by child rights groups

Children’s Rehabilitation Center (CRC) and Salinlahi Alliance for Children’s Concern paid visit to a 16-year old boy victim of military atrocity who was placed in Boys town facility in Tanay, Rizal.

Based on the CRC data, on March 22, 2012, Rey Rodrigo, 16 years old together with Elmer Desuyo, 20 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 elements of 4th Infantry Battalion not in uniforms carrying high powered rifles pointed guns at them and arrested them for no reason. Lt. Col. Dennis Perez, commanding officer of the Philippine Army's 74th Infantry Battalion (IB), released to the media that they were members of NPA extorting money from residents, claiming the three were caught after an encounter happened between soldiers and the New People’s Army (NPA).

On April, Rey was transferred from the Provincial Jail to the Boys Town in Rizal. Leaving the Elmer and Reynaldo, who already turned eighteen (18), still detained at the provincial jail.

According to CRC Executive Director Jacquiline Ruiz, the groups have decided to visit Rey in order to assess his present condition and assert his immediate release because the trumped up cases file against him have been already dismissed by a resolution released last May 2012.

“It’s already eight month since the illegal arrest occurred and now the case was dismissed but he is still prevented to go back to his family and live a normal life. This case shows that children remained vulnerable to 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.

On the other hand, Salinlahi Alliance for Children’s Concern Reina Requioma chided the Aquino government for the massive violations on children’s rights through his atrocious state-forces. She also expressed disgust that despite the resistance of the people and numerous reports of rights violations, the government heightens its military deployment in South Quezon and Bondoc Peninsula.

“Under Oplan Bayanihan, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has long-established its deceptive and violent characteristic as they prey civilians in their military operations resulting to the spate of extra-judicial killings, illegal arrests, tortures, attacks on schools, massive evacuations and other forms of violations. Moreover, the reigning culture of impunity make perpetrators unaccountable which further put children victims into more disadvantaged position and prolonged suffering,” Requioma said.

She added that the case is only one among the long list of military violations against civilians, including children. “No doubt why AFP remained number one human rights violator,” added Requioma.

As member of the Committee on Children in House of Representatives, Gabriela Women’s Party-list Representative Emmi de Jesus also joined the group to help facilitate the visit.

The group urged the Aquino government to immediately release Rey including the other two victims detained in Quezon Provincial Jail and end violations on children’s rights by scrapping Oplan Bayanihan and pull-out military troops in community.###