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CRC to President Duterte: Give justice to children victims of human rights violations! End the all-out war!

On the commemoration of the international women’s day today, March 8, child rights advocates joined thousands of women calling for jobs, land, justice and peace in Manila. Children’s Rehabilitation Center (CRC) demanded justice for the outright violations that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) committed towards civilians, especially children, in the conduct of its all-out war policy.
According to Jacquiline Ruiz, CRC executive director, “After the Duterte government declared its all-out war against armed groups, from February 9 onwards, series of attacks on schools were reported by Save Our Schools network in Talaingod Davao del Norte, Compostela Valley Province and Agusan Del Sur Province affecting 211 lumad children.”
The child rights watchdog mentioned that on February 11, about 100 families of Tagakaolo minority group in Brgy. Datal Anggas, Alabel, Saranggani, forcibly evacuated when six bombs were dropped on Sitio Tangis, following an encounter between NPA guerrillas and soldiers. Three lumad community schools operated by CLANS were also affected by the ongoing combat operations.
The group also received reports of massive military operations conducted in different communities in Allapacan, Sto. Niño, Madella, Quirino, Zinundungan Valley in Cagayan.
Reports also came in from Ifugao, where 98 families consisting of 398 individuals were forced to evacuate on February 17 when soldiers encamped their communities in Sitio Pinugao, Barangay Namal. “Community members were dislocated from their homes and their economic activities disrupted. And during times of forced evacuation, women and children are mostly affected,” Ruiz said.
Ruiz lamented that “Instead of distributing lands, providing economic opportunities and social services, government troops sow fear and terror among peasant and indigenous people’s population, in the guise of peace and development. The AFP and para-military groups they organized kill, displace and brand children as child soldiers!”
CRC decried justice for the atrocities that the AFP continues to perpetrate among poor peasant and indigenous peoples communities. “Couple Leonila and Ramon Pesadilla who were killed in their house in Compostela Valley last Thursday March 2, 2017 left an only survivor, a five-year old grandson who witnessed their brutal killings. The couple who were members of an anti-mining farmer’s organization was also known for their support in establishing the lumad school Salugpongan Community Learning Center. During the psychosocial activity conducted by CRC- Davao, the boy narrated that someone knocked at their door and when her grandmother opened it, something exploded. The boy immediately hid under the chair and kept quiet. Someone then went inside their house and shot his grandpa. The boy said that he saw his grandma bled from her nose and had a hole in her neck,” narrated Ruiz. The school which the couple helped build has been targeted by the military since 2014 based on suspicions that the school was an NPA school.
“Human rights violations are escalating under the Duterte administration’s bloody all-out war and the counter-insurgency program, Oplan Kapayapaan. These should immediately stop! We should not let children continue to fall victims of state atrocities and poverty. On women’s day, we demand justice, an end to all-out war and Oplan Kapayapaan and we demand a just and lasting peace, for the people’s sake, for children’s sake!,” ended Ruiz.###