Children are once again casualties of Basilan, Sulu wars

Sep. 02, 2007

DAVAO CITY — Once again, Moro civilians, and particularly children, are casualties of this latest government all-out war campaign in Sulu and Basilan.

Government statistics show that 24,000 residents from both islands have fled from their homes from the offensives since August. Most of these evacuees are women and children who are hapless and helpless in the situation.

Childrens vulnerabilities have further been aggravated by reports from the DSWD in the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao that on August 19 eight kids aged 4 to 16 years old from Indanan, Sulu were arrested and tortured along with their parents by the militarys Joint Special Operations Force.

Far from achieving its aim to crush terror, this all-out war in Mindanao has left two results.

First, it perpetuates the cycle of violence, worsening day-by-day as more civilians are victims of military offensives. The barbarity against the eight children is by far the worse of these atrocities, showing the militarys perpetration of violence and discrimination against Moro children.

This is a continuation of the many violations perpetrated by soldiers on children. The Kalinaw Mindanaos solidarity mission in 2005 documented that soldiers killed 14-year-old Aldasir Padiwan and his parents, while injuring and harassing 7-year old Almujayal Padiwan.

On January 18 this year, Marines shot nine people in Sulu, which included 12-year old Rodimar Julali. This was reportedly one of the cases that provoked MNLF commander Habier Malik to invite Brig. Gen. Benjamin Dolorfino to air out these violations.

Second, the war further underscores the Arroyo administrations war-hawkishness. It is disconcerting that there is money in war rather than in peace. As thousands of children in ARMM are not in schools and are staying evacuation centers, millions of pesos are poured to the 17 battalions in the two islands.

This all-out war in Mindanao also furthers the US-led war on terror as evidenced by the commitment of the armed services committee of the US House of Representatives to fund this campaign.

Again, this all-out war comes at the cost of lives especially of children, and at the cost of peace.

We implore all people to call for the stop of this war in Mindanao and pull-out all troops in Sulu and Basilan. #

Prof. Mae-Fe Ancheta-Templa, MSW
Women and Children Concerns Program
Initiatives for Peace in Mindanao


Office: Rm 101, Kalinaw Center, 13 Francisco St., Juna Subdivision, Matina Davao City
Phone : (082) 299-4964.

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