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PULL OUT MILITARY TROOPS IN MALAPATAN, SARANGGANI AND SPARE THE CHILDREN FROM TRAUMA

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15 August 2011

PRESS STATEMENT

We, child rights advocates from SALINLAHI Alliance for Children’s Concerns, Children’s Rehabilitation Center (CRC) and the Association for the Rights of Children in Southeast Asia (ARCSEA) that took part in the Alayon: A Peace and Solidarity Mission for the B’laan communities in Barangay Upper Suyan, Malapatan, Saranggani Province, Mindanao, condemn the ongoing militarization of the said communities.

We believe that B’laan children’s rights were violated and are continuously being violated through threats and harassments perpetrated by the 73rd Infantry Batallion (Philippine Army). Threats and intimidation committed against the teachers and staff of the Center for Lumad Advocacy and Services, Inc. (CLANS) hindered the operations of the B’laan Literacy School and Day Care Center (BLSDCC), causing them to temporarily suspend their graduation which was supposed to happen March of this year.

During the psycho-social first aid we facilitated for 235 children coming from Sitio Dlumay, Datalnay, Alna, Qgam, Siman and Dunganbahay in Barangay Upper Suyan, Malapatan, Saranggani Province, Mindanao.  Through the activities, we found out that the mere presence of the 73rd IB (PA) caused terror among the B’laan children as expressed in their fear of sharing their experiences with other community members. Children were scared of expressing their feelings because the military might find out and confront them. One of the children who participated in the psycho-social activity said that a military went to their house and asked for the whereabouts of the New People’s Army (NPA) and when he was not able to answer, the military pointed a gun at him and threatened to take their farm animals. Another child saw the aerial bombing of the 6 sitios by a helicopter manned by elements of the Philippine Army.

We stand firm that these inhumane acts are causing terror and trauma to the young minds of these children. Moreover, these acts taunt the development of these children. 

We call the attention of the Aquino government once again to investigate and punish the violators but still no actions were done despite the filing of cases to the Commission on Human Rights and the Regional Trial Court. 

We demand an end to the vilification of non-government organizations extending efforts to help in empowering communities of Indigenous Peoples that the Aquino government has neglected.  Various reports we have received regarding attacks on schools have shown that their experience is not isolated but a part of a systematic attack on human and children’s rights of the Filipino people with the anti-insurgency program of the Aquino government as its backdrop.  

Together with the B’laan children and their families, we call for the immediate pull out of the 73rd IB (PA) from the said communities as well as making them accountable for their crimes against the B’laan children!## 

 

Stop militarization in the B’laan communities!

End human rights violations against children!

Immediately pull out and hold accountable the 73rd IB of the Philippine Army!

End state violence!

 

SALINLAHI Alliance for Children’s Concerns Children’s

Children’s Rehabilitation Center (CRC)

Association for the Rights of Children in Southeast Asia (ARCSEA)