Child rights group fear rise in children victimized by armed conflict and development aggression


The KABIBA Alliance for Children’s Concerns is alarmed over the increasing number of children affected by armed conflict and development aggression in the countryside of southern Mindanao.

According to KABIBA’s monitoring, for January-May 2008, an estimated 2,380 children have been affected by militarization and development aggression. These are in the areas of Talaingod, Davao del Norte; Baganga and Cateel, Davao Oriental; New Bataan, Compostela and Monkayo, Compostela Valley Province; and Brgy. Manuel Guianga, Tugbok District, Davao City.

Among the young victims, two from Brgy. Mangayon, Compostela, ComVal Province were physically assaulted and harassed by military elements last May 2, 2008. Another two children were wounded due to a crossfire in San Isidro, Monkayo, ComVal Province. Two children were also wounded in a massacre in Manuel Guianga, Tugbok District, Davao City. Meanwhile, four children died while evacuating from their homes in Talaingod, Davao del Norte and New Bataan, ComVal Province. The four fell sick from the lack of food.

Undeniably, there is an ongoing civil war in the country instigated by chronic socio-economic crisis, bad governance and wanton violations of human rights. However, armed conflict in the countryside is being escalated by the Arroyo government’s all-out war policy through the Oplan Bantay Laya 2. The implementation of Investment Defense Force (IDF), which results in massive deployment of military and paramilitary troops to clear the way and/or protect the interests of large-scale mining and pesticides-dependent monocrop plantation companies.

Militarization is happening now in southern Mindanao, particularly in the mineral-rich and alluvial soil-rich Compostela Valley Province, Davao Oriental and Davao del Norte. Indeed, the Arroyo government has declared southern Mindanao as a hub for mining and agribusiness plantations and one of the priority areas for IDF implementation. The massive deployment of troops in rural areas to facilitate development aggression and landgrabbing is displacing hundreds of families of peasants and indigenous peoples.

These non-peaceful and unjust situations in the countryside make children further vulnerable. Already, rural children are burdened by poverty and lack of social services. Indeed, they are more vulnerable because they are physically weaker, still in the process of developing their own competencies. They are usually dependent on adults. They are greatly affected by the ongoing armed conflict not only in terms of the dire consequences of shooting wars and combat operations, but also in terms of rights abuses.

Child-focused groups under KABIBA are calling the parties of armed conflict to strictly observe Geneva Protocols on War, United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

We are also demanding the cancellation of all large-scale mining applications, stoppage of expansion of monocrop plantations and other pseudo-development projects. Likewise, we are also demanding the pull-out of all military and paramilitary troops who are being used by mining and plantation companies and influential people to displace the peasants and indigenous peoples in the rural areas.

We are also calling for an impartial and no-nonsense investigation on the increasing number of violations against children’s rights in the course of militarization and development aggression cum grabbing of peasants’ and indigenous peoples’ lands, most especially the involvement of Task Force Davao-trained SCAA of Pastor Apollo Quiboloy in the massacre of a tribal chieftain’s family.##

For reference:

HONEY MAY IDUL-SUAZO

Executive Secretary, KABIBA Alliance for Children’s Concerns

Contact Number: 09284917899

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