A community threatened
Fourteen-year old Joy had a different story. Joy comes from Sitio Bermuda, Bgy. Nabuk in Compostela Valley.
On May 2 this year, at around 10 a.m, soldiers from the 28th IBPA arrived at their sub-village. Joy was then manning the cooperative store of their community. The soldiers asked her, “May NPA bang bumibili ng softdrinks dito?” (Do NPA guerrillas buy soft drinks here?)
She replied that the last time they saw NPA fighters was a month ago. The soldiers told her, “Sinungaling ka! Kahapon lang narito sila.” (You’re a liar. They were here yesterday.)
The soldiers then asked for water. Joy replied that she would have to fetch water first. A soldier replied, “’Pag NPA humihingi, bibigyan n’yo agad.” (If the NPA ask for water, you immediately give them water.)
Joy said a resident who just bought rice for the cooperative was held by the military who accused him of giving rice to the NPA. Joy said she also saw a soldier point a gun at her nine-year-old cousin. When the boy’s mother came to get her son, the soldiers said the child is a member of the NPA. The mother asserted her right to get her son.
Joy also said that her uncle was mauled by soldiers. “Nilagyan ng cellophane at ng kaldero and ulo niya.” (The soldiers suffocated him with a plastic bag and a cooking pot.)
On May 12, the soldiers went back to the community. They warned the residents that they would be killed if they saw NPA fighters in the area.
At around 4 p.m., Joy said, they heard gunshots. Upon hearing the shots, some 58 families decided to evacuate from the place immediately.
Joy related,“Bandang 9 p.m., umalis kami sa lugar para pumunta sa Valma, 3 a.m. kami nakarating. Kahit ang mga matanda at bagong panganak, nakapaglakad dahil sa takot.” (We left our place at around 9 p.m. and arrived at Valma by 3 a.m.. Even the old and those who just gave birth were able to walk because of fear.)
They slept by the road. Hours later, they were transferred to the town’s gymnasium and stayed there for three days. Then, they transferred to Davao City, at the Bangkerohan village and stayed there for one month.
It was only by June 17 that they came back to their place. “Wala na ang mga hayop, pati mga tanim. May mga nawawalang gamit sa bahay. Sa coop, ubos ang paninda.” (All our farm animals were gone even our crops. We lost some belongings from our homes. All the items for sale at the cooperative were also gone.)
Children’s rights violations
Jerome, Junior, Ivy, Janice and Joy are but five of the 948 children victims of human rights violations under the Arroyo administration, which were monitored by the Children’s Rehabilitation Center (CRC).
In its report, the CRC said that from 2001 to 2008, 66 children were killed, 49 were victims of frustrated killing, 50 were tortured, five were raped, four were forcibly disappeared, and 55 were illegally arrested and detained. The NGO also estimated that about two million individuals, including children have been affected by forced displacement due to armed conflict.
The CRC said the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) is the main violator of children’s rights, whether in situations of armed conflict or not.