Children Again are Casualties of War in ARMM

Posted by Bulatlat
Vol. VII, No. 30, September 2-8, 2007

Once again, Moro civilians, and particularly children, are casualties of this latest government all-out war campaign in Sulu and Basilan.

Government statistics show that 24,000 residents from both islands have fled from their homes from the offensives since August. Most of these evacuees are women and children who are hapless and helpless in the situation.

Children’s vulnerabilities have further been aggravated by reports from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) that on Aug. 19, eight children aged 4 to 16 years old from Indanan, Sulu were arrested and tortured along with their parents by the military’s Joint Special Operations Force.

Far from achieving its aim to crush “terror,” this all-out war in Mindanao has left two results.

First, it perpetuates the cycle of violence, worsening day-by-day as more civilians are victims of military offensives. The barbarity against the eight children is by far the worse of these atrocities, showing the military’s perpetration of violence and discrimination against Moro children.

This is a continuation of the many violations perpetrated by soldiers on children. The Kalinaw Mindanao’s solidarity mission in 2005 documented that soldiers killed 14-year-old Aldasir Padiwan and his parents, while injuring and harassing 7-year old Almujayal Padiwan.

On Jan. 18 this year, Marines shot nine people in Sulu, which included 12-year old Rodimar Julali. This was reportedly one of the cases that provoked MNLF commander Habier Malik to invite Brig. Gen. Benjamin Dolorfino to air out these violations.

Second, the war further underscores the Arroyo administration’s war-hawkishness. It is disconcerting that there is money in war rather than in peace.  As thousands of children in ARMM are not in schools and are staying evacuation centers, millions of pesos are poured to the 17 battalions in the two islands.

This all-out war in Mindanao also furthers the U.S.-led war on terror as evidenced by the commitment of the Armed Services Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives to fund this campaign.

Again, this all-out war comes at the cost of lives especially of children, and at the cost of peace.

We implore all people to call for the stop of this war in Mindanao and pull-out all troops in Sulu and Basilan. Posted by Bulatlat

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