MANILA (Mindanao Examiner / Mar. 21, 2014) – The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers in the Philippines has appealed to the United Nations to investigate the unabated cases of extrajudicial killings in the country and also urged the world body to compel Manila to respect human rights.
“The growing number of children victims of extra judicial killings in the Philippines is alarming. We appeal to the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General to investigate these cases of extra judicial killing of children and we urge the Philippine government to respect the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and to comply with its obligation under international human rights law,” said Atty. Ephraim Cortez, assistant Secretary-General for legal services of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), in his oral intervention during the general debates of the 25th United Nations Human Rights Council sessions in Geneva, Switzerland recently.
Cortez, who also spoke in the name of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, was part of the delegation of the Ecumenical Voice for Peace and Human Rights in the Philippines (EcuVoice), a network of human rights defenders and faith-based institutions advocating for peace and human rights issues in the country.
“In the Philippines, under the Aquino administration, 18 children have been victims of extrajudicial killings. The government continues to sow violence and terror through military operations under the counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan, claiming children's lives,” Cortez said as he welcomed the reports of the UN Special Representative of the Secretary General on Children in armed conflicts and on violence against children.
He cited the cases of seven-year old Richard Mancera and ten-year old Michael Mancera and their father who were allegedly killed by soldiers of the 49th Infantry Battalion in their house in Camarines Norte on February 25, 2012.
And also the case of eight-year old Roque Antivo from Compostela Valley province in southern Philippines who was allegedly killed by the 71st Infantry Battalion on April 3, 2013; and the 16-year old Victor Freay, who was reportedly killed by the 39th Infantry Battalion and Task Force KITACO on August 23, 2013. All of the cases, he said, were documented by human rights groups Karapatan and the Children’s Rehabilitation Center.
“In 2012 alone, a total of 13 children were killed. In these documented cases, four of the children were living in militarized communities protesting the entry of mining companies; four were killed because of indiscriminate firing of state security forces forces; two of the victims were tagged as members of the New People's Army; nine of the victims were inside their homes when they were killed. Not one perpetrator involved in the above cases has been arrested, prosecuted and brought to jail,” Cortez said.
The military has previously denied all allegations by Karapatan whom officials claimed is a political front of the communist New People's Army rebels who are fighting for a separate state in the country.