Salinlahi launches campaign

to highlight human rights violations against children



December 2, 2008





Photos courtesy of SALINLAHI Alliance for Children's Concerns



01 DECEMBER 2008
REFERENCES: ALPHONSE RIVERA, Spokesperson – SALINLAHI Alliance for Children’s Concerns (Contact # 439-3104)
MA. ESMERALDA MACASPAC, Executive Director – Children’s Rehabilitation Center (Contact # 913-9244)


The Salinlahi Alliance for Children’s Concerns launched its campaign today to highlight human rights violations against children as part of the build up for the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the upcoming visit of the United Nations Special Representative to the Secretary General (UNSRSG) on the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict, Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy. “We want the general public to know that the Arroyo government has consistently failed to uphold the survival, protection, development and participation rights of Filipino children through its anti-people economic policies and political maneuvers,” declared Alphonse Rivera, Spokesperson of the Salinlahi, an advocacy group for children’s rights and welfare.

The campaign, dubbed Children Under Siege: Children-Victims of the US-Arroyo Regime’s War of Terror will feature activities that will highlight human rights violations against children resulting from the government’s Oplan Bantay II.

Through this campaign, cases of children who were killed, wounded, tortured, illegally arrested and detained by the Armed Forces of the Philippines will be highlighted. Special attention will also be given to children victims of human rights violations who were falsely branded as child soldiers. “Our documentation shows that the Arroyo government, through its military and police, remains the number one violator of children’s human rights. What is worse is that the perpetrators escape accountability by branding their victims as “child soldiers”, thereby further perpetuating the culture of impunity,” added Ma. Esmeralda Macaspac, Executive Director of the CRC, a non-government organization facilitating psycho-social help for children-victims of State violence and a member of the Salinlahi Alliance.

CRC documented 66 cases of children killed, 50 children tortured, 55 illegally arrested and detained and 49 who were victims of frustrated killings, since Pres. Gloria Arroyo assumed presidency in 2001. An estimate of more than half a million children were victims of forced displacement since 2001, especially in Mindanao. The organization plans to submit a report to the UNSRSG which cites combined data of CRC and allied human rights organizations when she meets with child-focused NGOs as part of her itinerary.

The group also plans to present children-victims of various types of human rights violations to the UNSRSG, including those who were falsely branded as child soldiers. “The AFP should be made doubly accountable for their irresponsible practice of labeling children victims of human rights violations as “child soldiers” and then parading these children to the media. Despite the passing of the Juvenile Justice Law that aims to protect children from undue violation of their rights , we see this practice of branding and labeling as “child soldiers” increasingly being resorted to by the AFP. We cannot discount the trauma and stigma placed on these children victims,” highlighted Rivera of Salinlahi.

Also joining Salinlahi and CRC in the campaign are the Children for Peace Alliance, the Gabriela Women’s Party and GABRIELA. Activities are planned by the groups starting today up to Ms. Coomaraswamy’s departure after Human Rights Day. “We want to maximize every form and every opportunity we can have to give names, faces and voices to children victims of the war of terror that the Arroyo regime is waging against its people,” Rivera ended.