Philippines: Military accused of using kids for propaganda

May. 10, 2007

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — The military is showing its desperation in its move to deflect the attention from its tragic offense of killing and labeling as child soldier the 9-year old Grecil Galacio. This is according to Alphonse Rivera, Spokesperson of SALINLAHI Alliance for Childrens Concerns, one of the organizations that assisted the Galacio family in their case against the military.

Salinlahi is reacting to news that the military in Southern Mindanao took 150 children from the Municipality of Pantukan, site of recent military operations, on an educational tour of Davao City to show the children that development could only be made possible through peace. Brigade General Carlos Holganza of the Army’s 101st Infantry Brigade, the same unit responsible for Grecils murder, said that it is through the education of children that they would be able to avert the recruitment of the insurgents.

Grecils case has elicited not only sympathy but outrage on this unforgivable blunder. So now, the military, particularly Gen. Holganza is seeking to repair the damage. But from all indications, their motive is self-serving, Rivera added. It is a desperate attempt to sanitize the smell of rotting military values and logic.

Rivera also said that these children are almost on the same age range as Grecil. These children, living in areas of poverty and government neglect may themselves be the militarys victims one day. Especially with the excuse of the child soldier label, the military now acts with impunity even against children, Rivera said.

He also advised parents not to be fooled by the military propaganda antics. How can you be sure that your children are safe in the hands of the military? Grecil may have been your own child. She has done nothing and yet she died in the hands of the military, the same entity that now purports to protect your children.

Salinlahi continues to pursue justice for Grecil by pushing for an independent investigation and autopsy of Grecils body by forensic experts. Grecil may now be a mere part of statistics for the military. But for us, she is a very vivid example of the ruthlessness and senselessness of the Arroyo governments war of terror that now counts children as enemies, Rivera concluded. ###

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