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Children assert rights to attain justice, peace and prosperity amidst state violence and governement corruption

Colorful face-paint designs, hand-made Christmas cards and strings of crane origami festooned the school grounds of Kalantiaw Elementary School in Project 4, Quezon City. With delightful shrieks and cheerful smiles, around 100 children and child rights advocates gathered around not only to celebrate the Christmas season but more so to give these children-victims of human rights violation a quick respite from the pain they are undergoing or have gone through as victims of human rights violation.

According to Ms. Ma. Esmeralda Macaspac, Executive Director of the Children's Rehabilitation Center, an institution providing psycho-social treatment for children-victim of human rights abuses, today's activity will give these children a productive and creative venue to express their desires or aspiration as they overcome the trauma and pain they suffered from the human rights violation they experienced. Most of the current clientele of the CRC are children whose parents are victims of violent arrests, enforced disappearance, and extra-judicial killings. "Most of them are able to express their desire for peace but this should be based on justice. This quest for justice is very much part of their coping mechanisms to overcome the trauma of loss of a loved one."

She added that for this year, the general situation of children has not improved. Instead, according to her, the ongoing massive military operations, especially in the rural areas have worsened their already miserable conditions. She cited the cases of the massive evacuation in Lianga, Surigao del Sur and in ARMM areas wherein schools were forced to close down due to intensive military operation.

She further reiterated the need to call for the resumption of peace talks between the GRP and the NDFP especially since the children, as the most vulnerable sector, are affected the most during military operations. "May these children's call for justice be finally heeded by our government officials as more than anyone else, these children have suffered tremendously especially at a time when they should be enjoying their childhood." Macaspac quips. ###