Group augments monitoring on abuses on children

Published by rudy Date posted on April 12, 2011

MANILA, Philippines – Many children from Sarangani Province, Iloilo City, Surigao del Sur, and Batangas are never at peace. They recalled that the lullabies that put them to sleep are often gunshots.

Such was part of the testimonies of the children who became victims of state violence, a mayhem that has been going on for several years now.

In a media forum entitled “Children of the Raging Storm” at the University of the Philippines, Jacquiline Ruiz, incoming executive director of the Children’s Rehabilitation Center (CRC), reported on the human rights situation of the Filipino children.

The CRC is a non-government institution that is licensed and registered by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) as a community-based and family welfare agency. It helps orphaned children who have been victims of state violence by providing educational, nutritional, and medical support.

Ruiz said there are 77 cases of killings and 59 cases of frustrated killings during Arroyo’s administration. Most of the children were scarred as they saw the murder of their loved ones.

On her report, she said there were 73 victims of illegal arrests, 56 were tortured. Seven children were labeled as “child soldiers” and 22 were used as guides or shields during assault operations.

By the end of 2010, she noted that 30 activists and leaders of people’s organizations were slain, leaving their children as orphans. The para-military Citizen’s Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) was also actively recruiting youth while harassing and intimidate some of them.

For her part, Maria Elena Caraballo, deputy executive director of the Council for the Welfare of Children, said a new mechanism was formed called to monitor child rights violation. It provides timely, objective, reliable, and accurate information on grave child rights violations to the UN Security Council and other MRM focal structures.

Professor Cindy Dizon-Dealogo of Psychology and Early Childhood Care and Development of Kalayaan College explained that neighbors and witnesses of the victims would also be affected by state violence.

There are many children who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) because of it, she added.

Parents also experience repression; it is an indirect effect of the situation. Kabataan Party-list Rep. Raymond ‘Mong’ Palatino expressed that private armies, war lords, drug lords, and jueteng lords have their own child soldiers.

DJ Acierto of the Documentation and Research Committee felt sympathetic to the casualties.

“We should respect children and not strip away their innocence and dreams. There are many of them who stopped going to school because of the war. This raging storm has driven some children to mental institutions and some to their undeserved demise,” he said. (Mary Clarice Ting/philstar.com Trainee)

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