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Philippines: Militarization Means Death and Trauma to Children

Apr. 17, 2007

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Childrens Rehabilitation Center

Southern Mindanao Region Office

Press Statement

April 16, 2007

Militarization means death and trauma to children

Pagkakita nako sa patayng lawas ni Grecil nga gisakay sa kangga, nakulbaan ko ug nahadlok kay nahuna-hunaan nako nga kung sa ako to nahitabo., (when I saw the dead body of Grecil laid on the balsa, I was nervous, afraid and thinking what if it was me who was killed).

This statement was tearfully narrated by a girl during a psycho-social therapy session in a National Interfaith Psycho-social First Aid Mission (NIPFAM) at Simsimen, Brgy. Kahayag, New Bataan last April 14. Participating in the activity were 34 children whose ages ranging from 4-14 years old from Purok 2, 5, 6, and 7.

Most of the children commonly shared that during the military-NPA encounter they feared for their lives that they took refuge to a safer place. Many of them were left in their home as their parents were out in the farm when the incident happened.

The outputs of children showed vivid images of helicopters and death of a playmate in the person of Grecil. It reflected the fear they have in their hearts and grief for their lost friend. Their stories showed their innocence which is now tainted with horror and worry for the safety of their lives.

Some expressed that they feel frightened when they hear loud engine noises coming from trucks entering their community because they associated it with military tanks conducting operations and are worried that the military might again get their properties.

Gary, the 6-year old brother of Grecil said wala lang when asked on his feelings about the death of her Ate Grecil. Teary eyes and avoiding eye contact indicate how deeply he is pained and grieving on her sisters death. The child is suffering from a trauma of losing a loving Ate.

The incident in New Bataan is a clear violation of the childrens right to be protected in situation of armed conflict. Grecils death adds to the growing number of violations committed by the AFP to children in the name of pursuing an all-out war against their perceived enemies of the State.

We in Childrens Rehabilitation Center (CRC), together with other child rights advocates under the Children for Peace Alliance, condemn in its strongest term the death of Grecil, as well as the irresponsible and malicious claim of the AFP that she is a child combatant. And that even if the AFP is willing to offer their apology for their crime, we deem that it is not enough and demand the perpetrators be brought to the bar of justice. Further, we demand for the immediate pull out of military troops operating in the area to halt further violation on human and childrens rights.

We call on all peace loving citizens and child rights advocates to stand and act together to defend the rights and welfare of our future generation. We urge the Commission on Human Rights and other concerned agencies to act upon and immediately serve justice to the Galacio family. We call on the Armed Forces of the Philippines to stop misrepresenting children victims of war as child soldier for its propaganda mileage to cover-up their wrongdoings.

Justice for Grecil Galacio!

Justice to all victims of human rights violation!

For Reference:

Girley Layaguin

Regional Program Director

(082) 2994596

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