July 2, 2023
The International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) condemns the continued killing of children under the watch of President Bongbong Marcos. Last June 16, 17-year old Rey Almario Belan was shot by the 2nd Infantry Battalion (IB) in Sitio Manaybanay, Barangay Calabad, Dimasalang, Masbate. He and his four companions were allegedly mistaken as members of the New People’s Army (NPA) while hunting for food.
“Rey Belan’s death adds to the long list of minors and children killed under the Marcos Jr. administration’s counterinsurgency program. Children are clearly non-military targets and should be protected during military operations,” said Peter Murphy, ICHRP Global Chairperson.
The killing of Belan happened just two days after the alleged massacre of the Fausto family under the hands of the 94th IB in Himamaylan City in Negros Occidental which killed brothers Ben Fausto (15) and Raven Fausto (12), who are both minors.
“The Philippine military’s utter disregard for the rights of children in the conduct of war violates the Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and Protocol I of the Geneva Conventions,” continued Murphy.
Belan and the Fausto brothers are not the only children to have fallen victim to state forces. On January 13, 2021, 2-month old baby Marx Caio Salino was abducted by armed soldiers of the 79th IB after raiding the home of Edwin and Marlyn Madin at 2 AM in Hacienda Ambulong, Barangay San Fernando, Talisay City. Paraded as an “NPA child”, the military claimed that Baby Marx was abandoned by his parents, who are both alleged members of the NPA in Negros. The military has used the infant as a hostage to force his parents to come out and surrender.
Baby Marx has since been in the custody of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Escalante City. For the past two years, his grandparents have been refused custody by the DSWD and the military while being subjected to various forms of harassment and surveillance from state forces.
“ICHRP holds the Marcos Jr. administration accountable for its gross track record of violating the rights and welfare of children. It remains steadfast in its call to respect the agreements signed between the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). It calls on the Philippine government to address the root causes of the armed conflict to lay the ground for achieving a just and lasting peace for the Filipino people. We also call on the attention of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and other international bodies, to conduct an investigation on the reported children’s rights violations by the Philippine government,” concluded Murphy.