Typhoon Ruby may have left the country for good but majority of Filipino children and their families continue to endure violation of their rights and devastation of their lives brought about by the disaster Aquino bolstered through the armed strength of his (state) military forces.
This was the statement highlighted by different child rights groups who took part in the people’s mobilization rally in Mendiola to commemorate International Human Rights Day today.
Nineteen (19) children have already been killed while nine (9) others were raped or sexually harassed; all of which were allegedly perpetrated by elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. “If we add the number of children who were victims of frustrated extrajudicial killings, illegal arrest and detention, torture, and forcible evacuation, the total could very well be the highest number of casualties ever recorded with regards to natural or man-made disasters,” said Sara Espineda, Publicity and Information Officer of the Children’s Rehabilitation Center.
Meanwhile, Save our Schools Network spokesperson and Salinlahi Alliance of Children’s Concerns chairperson, Madella Santiago reiterated on the growing trend of yet another rights violations hounding peasant and indigenous children in the countryside, military attacks on schools.
“Typhoons play a secondary role when we talk about destruction of schools, both public and privately initiated community schools. AFP troops who continuously encamp, vandalize and ransack school properties like what happened in Brgy. Dagohoy, Talaingod, Davao del Norte and Las Navas, Samar. Even worse, they burn down school structures to the ground as what they have done in Diatagon, Surigao del Sur just a month ago,” recalled Santiago.
“But above all, the disrupted classes, terror and fear sowed by these men in uniform to the young, impressionable minds of these children are what enrages us most,” Santiago pointed out.
“The difference is that typhoons are natural phenomenon whereas militarization of communities, especially of peasant and indigenous peoples, is a systematic operation by the Aquino government, under its Oplan Bayanihan scheme, to silence those deemed as enemies, children included,” opined Kharlo Manano, Salinlahi secretary-general.
According to Manano, most of documented cases of human rights violations happened in communities with strong opposition to the encroachment of big foreign companies plundering the country’s natural resources and endangers people’s lives and livelihood.
The different child rights groups added their voices to the loudening call of the people to hold Aquino accountable for his numerous rights violations. Manano councluded, “We’ve been weathering the storm for so long, it is time that we put an end to the never-ending rights violations against children and their communities. End the ravaging disaster, oust Noynoy Aquino!”###