The decrease in grave violations against children coupled with the progress in child protection policy is encouraging for the future of children in the Philippines – even though the continued effects of hostilities on boys and girls remain concerning, highlights a new report of the UN Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict in the Philippines.
Covering the period from 1 January 2020 to 31 December 2021, the report emphasises that the total number of grave violations against children declined to 115, compared to 331 in the previous report, although the latter covered a three-year period.
“We have witnessed a general decrease of grave violations against children, especially in killing and maiming, and attacks on schools and hospitals, which is promising for the children in the Philippines. However, we shall not let these numbers overshadow the fact that children continue to endure the dramatic consequences of armed conflict”, said the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba.
Killing and maiming, recruitment and use, and attacks on schools and hospitals were the three most verified violations. When perpetrators could be identified, most violations were attributed to New People’s Party (NPA) (47), followed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) (21). Mindanao remained the most affected region, with 83 per cent of the total number of verified violations. An increasing number of violations was also verified in the regions of Northern Mindanao and Davao, affecting predominantly indigenous people.
Of particular concern despite a general decrease, 67 children (46 boys, 21 girls) were killed or maimed, and 19 per cent of them were below the age of 5 years. Teenage boys were documented to be more at risk of being killed or maimed, owing to their roles at the front lines for those associated with parties to conflict.
The number of children recruited and used continues to be alarming, with thirty-eight children between 11 and 17 years old recruited and used by armed groups, the vast majority (80%) of cases attributed to NPA. The lack of adequate facilities and programmatic services for children formerly associated with armed groups remains preoccupying as children often remained in military camps of the AFP before benefiting from reintegration programs. The Special Representative reminds that all children associated with parties to conflict should be treated primarily as victims and alternative to detention should be actively sought after.
Policies to Better Protect Children
The reporting period was marked by progress through the development of policies to better protect children in armed conflict including a unique Strategic Plan to Prevent and Respond to Grave Child Rights Violations in Situations of Armed Conflict signed by the armed forces of the Philippines jointly with the United Nations. Furthermore, the Government adopted the Protocol in Handling Children in Situation of Armed Conflict (CSAC) on 29 September 2020 and the Philippines National Police also issued its Child Protection Policy to prevent grave violations against children.
The Special Representative welcomes the Government’s commitments to better protect children and uphold their rights in situations of armed conflict. She emphasizes that the full implementation of commitments is essential to ensure the full protection of children’s rights. She urges all parties to allow and facilitate safe and unimpeded humanitarian access to children, particularly for indigenous communities. “All children must be equally protected and provided with adequate support for them to thrive and reach their full potential,” said Virginia Gamba. “Policy progress made by the Government is a positive indicator for a sustainable and safe future for the children in the Philippines. My Office and the United Nations on the ground remain committed to supporting the Government of the Philippines to respond to and prevent further violations against children,” she added.
Note to the editors:
Facts for the reporting period (January 2020 – December2021)
115 grave violations against 104 children (62 boys, 42 girls)
Recruitment and use: 38 children (19 boys, 19 girls), 80% by NPA
Killing and maiming: 67 children (46 boys, 21 girls)
Rape and other forms of sexual violence: 1 child (0 boy, 1 girl)
Abductions: 2 boys
Attacks on schools and hospitals: 7 attacks (7 against schools, 0 against hospital)
Denial of humanitarian access: no incident verified
For additional information, please contact:
Fabienne Vinet, Communications Officer, Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict
+1-212-963-5986 (office) / +1-917-288-5791 (mobile) / firstname.lastname@example.org
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