CHICAGO (jGLi) – Rogue elements of the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and the New People’s Army (NPA) were recruiting children for combat and noncombat duties.
While the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), an independent government agency, believes personnel from the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) were killing leftist activists operating in rural area.
These mixed reviews of the hunter and the hunted in the Philippines were contained in the 2010 Human Rights report on the Philippines issued Friday (April 8) by the United States Department of State. The report was made public shortly before a briefing at the National Press Building in Washington, D.C. conducted by Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Michael Posner on behalf of Sec. Hillary Clinton. The document covers the annual legal status of human rights in more than 190 countries and territories around the world. It is submitted to U.S. Congress for funding decision for these countries.
The NPA has claimed that it assigned persons 15 to 18 years of age to self-defense and non-combatant duties. But there are persistent reports that NPA continues to use minors in combat. During the year, the AFP reportedly rescued eight child soldiers, all of whom were allegedly recruited by the NPA.
The same report said the ASG recruited teenagers to fight and participate in its activities. The AFP stated that some Islamic schools in Mindanao served as fronts to indoctrinate children.
In May, the United Nations released a report identifying ASG, the NPA and the MILF as among the world’s “persistent violators of children in armed conflicts.” These groups have reportedly recruited or used child soldiers for at least over the past five years.
ARBITRARY & UNLAWFUL KILLINGS
The UN report also noted isolated cases of minors, aged 15-17, were being voluntarily recruited into the paramilitary Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Units that fall under AFP operational control. The UN Children’s Fund was discussing the issue with the UN country task force.
During the year, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) helped rescue a child soldier from the rebel groups.
Meanwhile, security forces and antigovernment insurgents committed a number of arbitrary and unlawful killings, including combat operations between government forces and Muslim rebels in parts of Mindanao.
The CHR has investigated 53 new complaints of politically motivated killings involving 67 victims during the year. It laid blame on the police and the military for the killings of leftist activists operating in rural areas. Suspects in other cases were ordinary citizens or remained unknown. The nongovernmental organization (NGO) Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) also reviewed allegations of summary executions by government security forces. The TFDP counted nine cases involving 11 victims of summary executions by government forces during the year. Karapatan, another NGO, recorded 44 victims of extrajudicial killings.
The PNP's Task Force Usig (TFU), responsible for monitoring extrajudicial killings, has recorded 161 cases of killings since 2001. Of the 161 cases, 99 were filed in court and prosecutors' offices, 61 were under investigation, and one case was closed. There were no convictions of state actors during the year.
PHYSICAL & PSYCHOLOGICAL ABUSES
Pretrial detainees and convicts were often held in overcrowded, substandard conditions. Disappearances occurred, and arbitrary or warrantless arrests and detentions were common. Trials were delayed, and procedures were prolonged. Corruption was endemic. Leftist and human rights activists reported harassment by local security forces. Problems such as violence against women, abuse of children, child sexual exploitation, trafficking in persons, child labor, and ineffective enforcement of worker rights were common.
In addition to killing soldiers and police officers in armed encounters, elements of MILF, ASG, and Jemaah Islamiya (JI), and NPA -- the military wing of the Communist Party--killed local government officials and other civilians. These same groups also were linked with bombings that caused civilian casualties and kidnappings for ransom.
The Coalition Against Summary Execution recorded 74 cases of apparent vigilante killings in Davao City from January through October. The international NGO Human Rights Watch's April 2009 report on the Davao killings concluded that members of the police and local officials were involved or complicit. Authorities made no arrests in vigilante killings cases.
176 AFP SOLDIERS, 131 INSURGENTS KILLED
Military sources reported that 176 AFP members were killed in action during encounters with rebel and terrorist groups during the year, 166 by the NPA and 10 by the ASG. During the same period, AFP operations killed 131 insurgents: 97 suspected NPA members, 23 ASG members, and 11 MILF members. Insurgents killed 11 PNP officers during the year, and the PNP claimed 44 NPA insurgents were killed in police operations around the country. The AFP also recorded 55 bombings during the same period.
At least 23 individuals, including five businessmen, three soldiers, three farmers, three loggers, two teachers, and one militia member, were reportedly abducted by ASG, NPA, and other kidnap-for-ransom groups in Compostela Province, Basilan, Cotabato City, and the Zamboanga Peninsula during the year. Five were killed and 12 were either rescued or released; six remained missing or captive.
The Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) reported eight journalists killed during the year, four of them while in line of duty. The TFU, which also tracks killings of media practitioners, classified two of these cases as work-related killings. The TFU has recorded 39 media practitioners slain in work-related killings since 2001; this total does not include the 31 media members killed in the Maguindanao massacre, which was monitored by a special task force.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimated 26,600 families, or between 128,000 and 160,000 individuals, remained displaced in Mindanao either by the AFP/MILF conflict or by clan violence. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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