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When Children-Victims of Child Rights Violation are tagged as 'Child Soldier'

CRC Executive Director Ma. Esmeralda Macaspac said the Philippine government uses the broad definition of ‘child soldiers’ in the Paris Principles to evade prosecution for violating children’s rights. Worse, she said, “Communities and people’s organizations branded as guerilla fronts by a paranoid regime become vulnerable to attacks and children are bound to be branded as ‘children associated with armed groups’ by virtue of being residents of these communities or children of members of such organizations.”

At the height of military offensives in Mindanao, a military officer claimed that the four children who were killed in the Sept. 8, 2008 bombing incident in Datu Piang, Maguindanao were ‘child soldiers.’

Col. Marlou Salazar of the 601st Brigade and Maj. Gen. Hernanie Perez of Philippine Air Force 3rd Air Division said the six persons including four children aged two to ten years old who were killed after an OV-10 aircraft of the Philippine Air Force bombed the civilians evacuating from their community were all rebels.

On March 13, 2002, Grecil Buya, a nine-year-old gir,l was killed by soldiers in Compostella Valley. Davao Today reported that General Carlos Holganza, the commander of the Philippine Army’s 101st Brigade whose men killed Grecil, said there were indications that the girl was a member of the New People’s Army (NPA). The girl’s mother and the barangay (village) captain refuted the military’s claim.

On February 10, 2006, eleven backpackers, including two minors, were accused by the police as members of the NPA responsible for the raid on a military detachment in Mankayan town, Benguet. Ten months later, the Benguet Regional Trial Court dismissed the homicide and arson cases against the youth backpackers for lack of evidence.

CRC Executive Director Ma. Esmeralda Macaspac cited these cases at a forum in Quezon City last week. She said the Philippine government uses the broad definition of ‘child soldiers’ in the Paris Principles to evade prosecution for violating children’s rights.


Source: 
BY Ronalyn Olea Human Rights Watch Bulatlat.com