The Philippines, being a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, is scheduled to report to the UNCRC regarding the government’s compliance to the said convention on the first week of June. This early, Philippine permanent representative to the UN ambassador, Hilario Davide, Jr. is already lobbying for the delisting of the country in the list of nations “involving children in the armed conflict citing the “extreme sensitivity” of Filipinos to the needs children and the legal structure of the country. But NGOs think otherwise.
BY JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH
Vol. VIII, No. 16, May 25-31,2008
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) is the international human rights treaty that defines the essential freedom and intrinsic rights of children as human beings. Nations that ratify the convention are bound by it; the signatory country’s compliance to the UNCRC is monitored by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child.
The Philippines, being a signatory to the convention, is scheduled to report to the UNCRC on the first week of June. Philippine permanent representative to the UN ambassador, Hilario Davide, Jr., is currently representing the country in the deliberations of the UN Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict. Through Davide, the Arroyo government is lobbying for the delisting of the Philippines from the list of nations “involving children in the armed conflict. Davide cited the country’s “extreme sensitivity” to the needs of Filipino children for its delisting. Davide said that the legal structure of the Philippines, particularly the 1987 constitution protects children even in situations of armed conflict. He also mentioned the activities of the Department of Social Welfare and Development in “rehabilitating” and “reintegrating” children involved in conflicts.
But NGOs think otherwise.
Victims of state violence
Esmeralda Macaspac, Executive Director of the Children’s Rehabilitation Center (CRC) reported on cases of state violence against children in a forum May 19. The forum entitled May ‘K’ pa ba Kami? Ang Kasalukuyang Kalagayan ng mga Batang Pilipino was sponsored by the Children ACT Now, a children’s rights advocate group in the Philippines.
Macaspac said that instead of protecting children, the number of cases of state violence against children did not cease for the past three years. Since year 2005, 20 children were killed because they were suspected by the military of being members of the New People’s Army. Meanwhile, there were also 50 children maimed and 69 others who were victims of various violations. Added to this, there were 54 children who witnessed the killings done to their own families leaving them a painful memory lo live with every day.
She said there were also five child victims of sexual violence and five others who were denied of humanitarian aid.
Macaspac said some child victims decide to speak out about their plight.
“So sa bahagi namin, dun kami pumapapel. Tumutulong kami sa imbestigasyon para ma-unearth yung katotohanan” ( When child victims decided to speak out that is where we come in, we help in the investigation to unearth the truth.) Alphonse Rivera, Officer in Charge of the Salinlahi Alliance for Children’s Concern told Bulatlat. “Kaya kapag may nabalitaan kami na may napatay na NPA na bata, inaalam agad namin. Ang biased kasi yun sa bata kasi dead na yun eh. Hindi na yun magsasalita” (So when we hear that a child was killed because he was suspected of being a member of the NPA, we investigate at once. The assertion of the military that the child was a member of the NPA is biased already. The child is dead and can no longer speak the truth.)