Group to file raps vs military for ‘torturing’ kids

By DateLine Philippines

A children’s advocacy group will file a complaint against the military before the Commission on Human Rights for allegedly torturing three minors tagged as members of the New People’s Army (NPA).

The Salinlahi Alliance for Children’s Concerns said they will bring the cases of Allen, 17, and 15-year-olds Ivy and Tere (not their real names) before the human rights body so the soldiers responsible for the alleged torture would be punished.

The group will also submit a report to the United Nations Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict and the European Union “to call the attention of the national and international bodies to the continuing grave violation of children’s rights by the military.”

The minors were arrested in separate incidents in Makilala, North Cotabato and Moncayo, Compostela Valley early this month and were allegedly tortured before to force them to admit they were members of the communist NPA.

They were released following the intervention of human rights groups, said Pia Garduce, spokesperson of Salinlahi.

Results of the fact-finding mission led by Kabiba Alliance for Children’s Concerns, Salinliahi’s counterpart organization in Mindanao, showed Allen was arrested in Monkayo on March 15 and forced to admit being among those who planted a bomb in Barangay Old Balatukan.

Garduce said the military mistook Allen for a person they saw at the site of the incident because both wore orange T-shirts.

“The military tied the boy like a pig and poked a knife into his neck and struck him on his back with the rifle butt,” she said in a statement.

Allen was later identified as a child laborer in a rubber plantation and was on his way to lunch when accosted by soldiers.

Ivy and Tere were arrested allegedly in separate encounters in North Cotabato and Compostela Valley.

But based on its fact-finding report, Kabiba said that the two girls were actually among 13 upland farmers arrested by members of the 25th Infantry Battalion on March 7.

Garduce said the children were presented to the court only on March 11, in violation of Republic Act 9344 or the Juvenile Justice Welfare Law.

“They were illegally detained for more than 36 hours and subjected to mental torture. The military even made up a story that one of the minors is pregnant,” Garduce said.

Salinlahi expressed alarm of the continuing violation of children’s rights by labeling them child soldiers despite the presence of laws protecting them.

“These children are facing the hardship of helping their parents to augment their livelihood because of poverty and yet, the military preys on them like vultures, seemingly just to meet their deadlines in crushing the insurgency problem.” Garduce said.

The government considers the communist insurgency the greatest threat to national security.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has given the military a deadline to crush the communist rebels by the end of her term in June.

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