By ROD TAJON
VIGAN CITY – Human rights violations among children under Aquino’s Oplan Bayanihan only unmasks the program’s dreadful character, a child rights group said.
Jacquiline Ruiz, executive director of Children’s Rehabilitation Center (CRC), an institution providing psychosocial help to children victims of state violence said that these incidents involved military units who are part of the Community Organizing for Peace and Development (COPD) of the US-patterned counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan (OPB) of the Aquino administration where soldiers stay in the community and conduct military operations.
“So called peace and development activities, coupled with continuous aggressive presence of the soldiers in the communities, instill fear among the children and residents, disrupting their schooling and economic activities,” Ruiz said, citing CRC’s 2011 documentation on cases of soldiers stationed at village halls which also serve as day care centers.
In Ilocos region, the newly-installed 3rd Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (IBPA) occupied viillage halls in the towns of Santa Cruz and Galimuyod, Ilocos Sur where the day care centers are also located. Earlier this year, elements of 24th IBPA and several elements of 7th Civil Military Operations Battalion, all under the 7th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army, also occupied village halls and day centers in towns of Marcos and Piddig, Ilocos Norte.
The April 2011 report of the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to the General Assembly, affirmed that in 2010, most of the documented and verified cases of violations against children were perpetrated by the Armed Forces of the Philippines. He also cited that the government’s war against the communist rebels through the counter-insurgency program permits and directly targets civilians, especially children who are vulnerable to violations.
Ruiz challenged the Aquino government to protect and uphold children’s rights, as the Philippines is a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). “We urge Aquino to do necessary actions to punish the perpetrators thus end the culture of impunity and stand by genuine peace by upholding children and human rights and not by implementing deceptive counter insurgency programs,” Ruiz said. (Posted by Bulatlat.com)