Lady lawmakers denounce arrest of children tagged as rebels by the military

LAWMAKERS have called for a congressional inquiry into the reported arrest of children accused as rebels by the military.

Reps. Emmi De Jesus and Luzviminda Ilagan, both of Gabriela Women’s Party, filed House Resolution 2936 urging the House Committee on Human Rights to investigate various cases of arrest of children who were falsely branded as child soldiers.

De Jesus cited the case of Elmer Desuyo, 20-years old; Reynaldo Delos Santos, 17 years old and Rey Rodrigo, 16 years old, all residents of Sitio Tagbakan Brgy. Pansoy, San Andres Quezon who were arrested by the military on March 22, 2012.

“The armed men introduced themselves as members of the 74th Infantry Battalion based in Sitio Malamig, Sto. Nino, San Andres, Quezon Province,” De Jesus said.

De Jesus said the three boys were brought and interrogated in a battalion detachment in the town of San Andres.

“The military kept insisting that they were caught in an encounter between them and the NPAs. Moreover, Lt. Col. Dennis Perez, commanding officers of the 74th IB issued a statement that the boys are NPAs extorting money from the residents,” De Jesus said.

De Jesus said two of the boys are still detained at the Quezon Provincial Jail charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives and frustrated murder, while Delos Santos was transferred to the National Training School for boys in Tanay, Rizal without the knowledge of his parents.

Citing a report of the Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights or KARAPATAN, De Jesus said eight other children who were arrested and branded by the military as rebels are still in jail.

“Human rights violations committed by the government armed forces against these children clearly go against strongly etched tenets of democracy and smacks of fascism,” De Jesus said.

De Jesus said under Section 6 of Republic Act 9344 or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006, children above 15 years but below 18 years of age shall be exempt from criminal liability and be subjected to an intervention program, unless he/she has acted with discernment, in which case, such child shall be subjected to the appropriate proceedings under the law.

De Jesus said Article III Section 2 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution declares the inviolability of the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose.

De Jesus also cited Article 40 of the United Nation Convention on the Rights of the Child which urges State Parties to recognize “the right of every child alleged as, accused of, or recognized as having infringed the penal law to be treated in a manner consistent with the promotion of the child’s sense of dignity and worth.”

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