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Killing of children under Opbay persists - child rights watchdog

“As child rights advocates, we are dismayed by the state forces' outright violations of human rights of civilians during their counter-insurgency operations and they are particularly targeting children!”
 
This is the statement of Children’s Rehabilitation Center Deputy Director Eilekrenes Manano during the commemoration of International Human Rights Day on December 10.
 
“The all-out war of the Duterte administration against armed groups in Moro communities has further made children more vulnerable to state-sponsored abuses and violence. Hamudi Anali, 6 years old and Alkudzri Anali, 5 years old, died from a bomb explosion in Barangay Bohe Piang, Albarka, Basilan Province last December 2,” Manano explained, claiming that two other children have sustained injuries during the incident.
 
Citing the account of witnesses, Manano said that all four children were playing outside their house when the bomb exploded. Although local barangay officials affirmed that it was the government troops who occupied Sitio Bohe Beggang during operations against the members of bandit groups last month, the military was quick in disowning accountability. The barangay chairman also said that there is possibility that the military has left a mortar shell.
 
“This is not new nor an isolated case. In the course of implementing the US-patterned counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan, 29 children were killed under the past administration of Benigno Aquino III. Despite indisputable evidences and testimonies of families pointing the military, not a single perpetrator was held accountable,” emphasized Manano.
 
Manano, on the other hand, said that the intensified implementation of the blood-stained Oplan Bayanihan continued during the present Duterte administration despite the ongoing peace talks and ceasefire with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
 
“Since July (2016), Children’s Rehabilitation Center has documented 13,946 individual victims of state-sponsored child rights violations in the course of military operations in civilian communities. These include 2 children killed, 6 children victims of frustrated killings, 1,333 children harassed, threatened and intimidated, 10,146 children victims of forcible evacuation and 1,049 children affected by attacks on schools,” Manano enumerated, saying that aside from the failure of the government to release political prisoners, these atrocities perpetrated by state armed forces do not contribute to President Duterte's pursuit of peace.
 
“As we observe the International Human Rights Day this December 10, we bear witness to the persisting violations of Filipino children's right to live in a safe, nurturing and peaceful environment. We urge President Duterte to end the implementation of Oplan Bayanihan as well as to pull out military troops in civilian communities,” Manano demanded.
 
On the other hand, Manano urged concerned government agencies to investigate the killing of Anali sisters and hold the perpetrators accountable. ###