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Months before Aquino’s term ends, Daang Matuwid is still a dark and bloody path- SALINLAHI

NEWS RELEASE [17 June 2015]

Child-focused organizations SALINLAHI and Children’s Rehabilitation Center (CRC) joined the multi-sectoral protest action in front of Camp Aguinaldo to denounce the human rights violations of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) including the recent strafing incident which resulted to the killing of three civilians and wounding of a child in Paquibato District, Davao City last June 14.

SALINLAHI Secretary General Kharlo Manano said that unidentified members of 69th Infantry Battalion Philippine Army indiscriminately fired at the house of Aida Seisa, whom at the time was celebrating her daughter’s birthday together with her family and friends. ‘Although Aida was able to survive the incident, her guests namely Datu Ruben Enlog, Randy Carnasa, and Garyo Quimbo were all killed while the birthday celebrant was hit by shrapnel on her shoulder,’ Manano recounted.

Manano also slammed the military over its statement immediately after the incident stating that the three were members of the New People’s Army. ‘That is a blatant lie, a recycled plot of the AFP in order to escape from accountability,’ Manano said.

Manano pointed out that the victims are civilians and not NPAs. Aida is the current secretary-general of Paquibato District Peasant Association or Padipa and a member of lumad organization PASAKA Confederation of Lumad Organizations in Southern Mindanao. On the other hand, Enlog was the leader of NAGKALUPA (Nagkahiusang Lumad Maguuma sa Paquibato/ United Peasant Farmers of Paquibato) while Carnasa and Quimbo were both church workers.

After the incident, Aida went missing and is believed to be under the custody of the military.

‘This is very disquieting. With just months before the term of President Aquino ends, we are still trailing the dark and bloody path of Daang Matuwid where civilians, including children, fall prey to the atrocities of the military. It is evident that Aquino failed to end human rights abuses under his watch,’ added Manano.

CRC, on the other hand, said that the incident will be added to the AFP’s long list of grave child rights violations, particularly on killing and maiming.

‘Under Aquino, CRC documented 20 killings, 30 frustrated killings, 4 rapes and 31 cases of false branding of children victims of human rights violations as child soldier,’ said CRC Information and Publicity Staff Eule Rico Bonganay. He added that, under Aquino’s counter- insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan, the AFP continues to live up to their name as the ‘Number 1’ terror and violator of Filipino children’s rights while Aquino maintains the culture of impunity in its deliberate failure to prosecute perpetrators.

He also expressed concern over the traumatic effect of the incident to the psychosocial well-being of Aida’s daughter. ‘The AFP did not only take the lives of the civilians but also left life-long scar to the child survivor, especially that the incident happened during her birthday. Aside from the trauma, the child is distressed by the fact that her mother is still missing,’ Bonganay added.

During the protest, the groups called on various stakeholders, peace advocates and government officials to act on the cases of human rights violations and end the culture of impunity by holding perpetrators accountable and scrapping Oplan Bayanihan.

The group also announced that some of the documented AFP’s grave child rights violations will be brought to the attention of the International People’s Tribunal in Washington this July.###