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Human rights violations against children escalate with the Duterte government's 'all-out war'

Child rights watchdog condemned anew state forces’ escalating human rights violations, amid the government’s all-out war campaign against the New People’s Army (NPA). Children's Rehabilitation Center (CRC) challenged President Rodrigo Duterte to make a decisive stand against state atrocities to prove his sincerity in achieving genuine peace in the country.
‘Even while the peace negotiation between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front is ongoing, we have been witnessses to the continuing human rights violations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). And especially after Duterte's declaration of an all-out war, the military have continued and even gained more confidence in violating human rights of progressives, activists and even civilians,’ said Jacquiline Ruiz, CRC Executive Director.
Ruiz said that children in the countryside continue to live under siege as elements of the AFP target civilians. ‘We are very much alarmed that children continue to carry the heaviest brunt of military abuses in the countryside. Between February 10 and 11, elements of the AFP have committed cases of extrajudicial killing of a grade 11 student, military attacks on schools and indiscriminate aerial bombings resulting to forcible evacuations of indigenous communities,’ she emphasized.
In Magallanes, Sorsogon, military elements placed their armored vehicles and army troops in front of Tula-Tula elementary schools endangering the lives of school children. The military elements used the school, including its students and teachers as shields when they were attacked by the NPA last February 10. Due to fear, school officials have suspended their classes.
On February 11, around 4:30pm, members of the 29th Infantry battalion indiscriminately strafed small-scale miners in Sitio Sarog, Pangailan, Tagmamarkay, Agusan Norte resulting to the killing of Pepito Tiambong, 40 years old and Jobert Bito, 17 years old and a grade 11 student and wounding of several others. In an attempt to escape from accountability, the military was quick in claiming that the victims were killed in a firefight with NPA members.
Also on February 11, about 100 families of Kaulo Tribe from Barangay Datal Anggas, Alabel, Saranggani Province forcibly evacuated their homes when military elements dropped 6 aerial bombs on Sitio Tangis following an armed encounter between the members of the AFP and NPA. Most of the tribesmen evacuated to Sitio Kindag and to other lowland communities. Three (3) lumad community schools operated by the Center for Lumad Advocacy and Services, Inc. (CLANS) were also affected by the ongoing military combat operations.
Ruiz lamented that the Duterte government’s all-out war endangers the lives of civilians, especially communities tagged by the AFP as rebel strongholds and even members of progressive groups, leaving hundreds of children orphaned while many children are being separated them from their parents who were either arrested and detained over trumped up charges.
‘Where is the change that Duterte has promised over millions of people who have supported and voted for him? Children of peasants and indigenous peoples continue to experience state violence on a daily basis. Indeed, the future remains bleak for Filipino children whom we consider as our nation’s hope!'
'An all-out war will never be a solution to address the armed conflict. With this escalating state violence, President Duterte’s commitment in achieving peace is being tested and challenged. President Duterte should abandon the all-out war campaign and listen to the growing clamor for the continuity of the peace talks in order to address the root cause of the armed conflict,’ ended Ruiz.###