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You are here: Home News Blog Mindanao News Blog UPHOLD AND PROTECT THE RIGHTS OF FILIPINO CHILDREN!

UPHOLD AND PROTECT THE RIGHTS OF FILIPINO CHILDREN!

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The NDFP-Mindanao fully affirms the NDFP Declaration and Program of Action for the Rights, Protection and Welfare of Children. We reiterate our commitment to defend and promote the rights, interests and welfare of Filipino children, which are fully integrated into the social program of the people’s democratic revolution with a socialist perspective.  Ensuring the future of our children is one fundamental reason why we are waging a people’s war.  We want to create a society where all children can be provided the basic necessities like education, food, clothing, a home, and all the opportunities needed to make a happy, balanced childhood.

 

But in Mindanao, being part of the Philippine semi-feudal, semi-colonial system, children’s rights are systematically violated, and they carry the heaviest burden of social exploitation and oppression. Millions of them are unschooled and found in dreadful working conditions in both rural and urban areas in the island. They can be seen in the vast rice and cornfields, in large-scale plantations, such as in Dolefil, Del Monte and the sugar-cane fields of Bukidnon, in hundreds of tunnels, panning and other mining areas, and in logging concessions as low-waged or unpaid laborers. School-aged children are also heavily exploited in the landing areas and piers as porters, small vendors, and scavengers in the urban centers.  In 2009, the GPH conservatively estimated the number of working children in Mindanao, ages 5 to 17, at 543,000 individuals.

Prevalent in Mindanao and the entire country, children suffer from the most exploitative and degrading conditions, pushed to become thugs, drug peddlers and users, and mendicants. Hired or trafficked by criminal syndicates, they are helplessly forced into prostitution and in many cases, slaughtered for their organs to be traded abroad.  Minors are not even spared from the numerous extra-judicial killings committed with impunity by state-sponsored motor-riding death squads such as in the cities of Davao, Digos, Tagum, Cagayan de Oro, Butuan, Bayugan and in other urban areas in Mindanao. Calamity-related tragedies also victimize children, such as the hundreds killed during the typhoon Sendong.

Noynoy Aquinos’ Oplan Bayanihan and all preceding anti-insurgency campaigns of the GPH have created a more horrendous and more miserable life for the children. During the first half of 2012, military operations have caused massive evacuations in areas where multinational mining and plantations operate in the five regions of Mindanao as well as in several Moro communities, displacing thousands of families, close to half of them are children. In the AFP’s vicious and systematic attack on schools, especially those in remote areas, teachers and pupils are harassed, intimidated and vilified; school buildings and school premises are occupied or used for military purposes as barracks or detachments.

Children’s rights violations are repeatedly committed by the AFP, PNP and by private goons.  Most affected are Lumad and peasant children who are often traumatized by the AFP’s indiscriminate bombing and Howitzer shelling, strafing, direct threats and intimidation, such as in the provinces of Caraga, Bukidnon, Davao, North Cotabato, the Zamboanga peninsula, and in the island provinces of Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.  Consequently, they experience the most difficult and unhealthy situations; many of them get sick, some even die.  During AFP civic and combat operations, minors have become easy target for corruption, seduction and rape, drug addiction, illegal arrest, torture and even extra-judicial killing.

There are also cases of children conscripted into the AFP’s war machine as CAFGUs, CVOs, BDS guards, guides and advance guards during military operations.  A fresh case of AFP recruitment of four minors was unmasked during the NPA raid in Brgy. Binicalan, San Luis, Agusan del Sur on May 30, 2012, where one 15-year-old CAFGU was wounded.   Cases of minors being tortured by the AFP and presented as “NPA child soldiers” were documented in Davao del Sur, Davao City, Cagayan de Oro, San Fernando, Bukidnon and other parts of Mindanao. There is the case of the Villa girl from Davao City who was courted by a military man, taken to the military camp and presented to the media as a child soldier. Where there is a prolonged AFP civic-military operation, girls are duped, seduced and later abandoned into pregnancy, as was the case in 2011 of four female minors in Marihatag, Surigao del Sur.

Moro children are also subjected to a host of other oppressions and injustices, such as chauvinism and other forms of discrimination. Millions of Moro children together with their families were forced to evacuate their homes and ancestral lands during Estrada’s brutal counter-insurgency campaign in 2000-01 in Central Mindanao. During the Arroyo regime in 2008, half a million Moro people, mostly women and children, were displaced due to the state’s counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency campaigns. Moro children also suffer as their families become internal refugees as a result of inter-clan wars.

Continuing US intervention in the country, especially with the ever increasing presence of US troops, has greatly contributed to the further oppression and exploitation of children in the Philippines.  Between 2008-2009, there was the case of girls who were brought to the Tropicana Beach Resort in General Santos City as prostituted women to cater to US soldiers. US armed personnel are also directly involved in combat operations in Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Basilan and Zamboanga del Sur, which have displaced, and even killed, Moro civilians, including children.

Thus, the NDFP’s national and democratic program and its socialist perspective for Filipino children are at the forefront of our revolutionary struggle. The rights of children to free education, food, health care, clothing and shelter and many others must be protected and upheld. They must be provided with nationalist, scientific and mass-based cultural programs. Socialized child-rearing and nursery and a support system for child-rearing mothers and single parents must also be promoted.

Currently and concretely in our base areas, violations against children’s rights are gradually eliminated.  The people’s democratic government has successfully reduced the number of illiterate adults and children, especially in many Lumad areas in Mindanao. Children have been organized, and cultural campaigns have been launched for them to combat anti-social activities. Collective production farms have been put up to help eradicate malnutrition in their communities.  Their health committees have coordinated with the health staff of the New People’s Army (NPA) to provide basic health services to the barrio-folk, especially to children. Units of the NPA and the organs of political power strictly adhere to the international laws of war regarding the non-recruitment of minors into the People’s Militia or the NPA.

In line with our long term program for children, it is our immediate task to the protect children’s rights and welfare.  Children must be kept safe from atrocities of the fascist armed forces of the GPH as well as from hostilities and anti-social groups.  They must be organized and educated on the history and current situation to know their place in Philippine society and the world.

More than ever, the NDFP-Mindanao is duty-bound to mobilize all its resources in order to defend, uphold and promote the rights and welfare of children, including the NDFP’s Program of Action which stipulates the creation of a special office for the continuing protection of children’s rights and welfare.

 

Last Updated ( Friday, 29 June 2012 14:45 )  

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