“Moro children continue to carry the brunt of the Mamasapano encounter aftermath, contrary to the government’s claim that everything ‘has gone back to normal.’”
By DEE AYROSO
Children’s rights advocates reported how the children of Mamasapano, Maguindanao continue to suffer in fear, as they dread a repeat of the bloody Jan. 25 clash between elite police forces and Moro rebels.
“Moro children continue to carry the brunt of the Mamasapano encounter aftermath, contrary to the government’s claim that everything ‘has gone back to normal’ in the affected communities,” said Kharlo Felipe Manano, secretary-general of the Salinlahi Alliance for Children’s Concerns.
Many children have stopped going to school, which reflects how their lives remain disrupted, Manano said.
Manano said that “the call for truth and accountability is more urgent now,” as children and civilians suffer. “The Filipino people are demanding not just the truth but the Aquino government’s accountability on this heinous violation of human rights of children and their families,” said Manano.
The group was part of the People’s Fact-finding Mission in Tukanalipao village, Mamasapano town on Feb. 9 and 10. The Children’s Rehabilition Center, a member organization of Salinlahi, facilitated a psychosocial first-aid activity for some 200 children, who were traumatized by the clashes, and the forcible evacuation.
Dubbed “Oplan Exodus,” the operation of the elite Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (SAF) Mamasapano claimed the life of eight-year-old Sarah Panangulon, one of at least two Tukanalipao village residents who were killed in the operation. Suara Bangsamoro reported that at dawn of Jan. 25, SAF men strafed the Panangulon hut, killing Sarah, and wounding her parents, Tots and Samrah.
In Lintangan Elementary School, teachers reported that only 200 out of 625 students have returned to their classes, said Eule Bonganay, CRC Public and Information staff.
“Many of them fear that a similar situation might happen again. Their sense of security has been shattered,” Bonganay said.
Manano said that the investigation by legislators at the Houses of Representatives and the Senate “seems to be white noise to cover up BS Aquino’s culpability.”
“The ongoing congressional inquiries are but blatant orchestrations to put to rest the blame on the hands of the administration’s sacrificial lambs,” Manano said. “Even the US government’s participation in the planning and conduct of the classified operation is conveniently being downplayed despite glaring proofs.”