Current Initiatives and Events

Child’s Rights highlighted in “Kapehan sa RHRC”

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

#RHRCAdvocacy.#RHRCInitiative. In observance of the forthcoming Universal Children’s Day, the Regional Human Rights Commission highlighted Child’s Rights as the main issue of discussion during the Kapehan yesterday, October 22.

The Commission invited Ms. Sittie Rajabia Monato from UNICEF to be the Guest Speaker for the Kapehan.

In her talk, Ms. Monato put emphasis on children in armed conflict. She stressed that the main issue and challenge now is the non-inclusion of provisions in the Bangsamoro Basic Law concerning children in armed conflict, which she thinks is ironic because ARMM is known to be an armed conflict area.

She continued with her presentation by discussing the action plan on recruitment and use of children. She said that there is no exact number of children soldiers or children associated with the MILF. However, they (UNICEF) are working around 10,000 case loads of child soldiers in 31 based commands and 7 front commands. She also stated that they are conducting orientation on action plan of recruitment of children.

Ms. Monato also discussed the UN-MILF ACTION PLAN. According to her, this was signed in 2009 but only few heard of it. This pact between the UN and MILF served as the latter’s expression of commitment not to use children as combatants. She said that MILF was included in the report submitted to the Office of the Secretary General as one of the persistent perpetrators along with ASG, BIFF, and NPA. However, among the four factions, only the MILF had this kind of action plan with the aim of eradicating their name in the list of perpetrators. However, no tangible or observable outcome exists up to this time.

According to Chairperson Latiph, one probable reason why some children become child soldiers is that schools are very far from camps, thus, children would rather opt to learn to use guns than learn to read and write.

In response, Atty. Sittie Mariam Balahim of DepEd, said that there is a so-called Alternative Learning System wherein mobile teachers cater around 50-75 out of school youth.

Ms. Taya Aplal, Director II of DepEd-ARMM, said that child soldiering has been an old issue but there is no documentation or proof to support such allegation. She added that there have been a lot of programs but still, there is no documentation.

Ms. Monato shared another challenge. According to her, the community does not talk about this issue or is not receptive about the issue. In matters concerning the BBL and the TJRC, the question is how to include child soldiering.

Chairperson Latiph, as a response, discussed a bit about Transitional Justice. He said that TJ deals with past abuses, which include prosecution and reparation. He enumerated and discussed the 4 components of transitional justice such as (1) Truth seeking and truth telling – sharing of information to heal wound of the atrocities, (2) Reparation or compensation but not only in the form of money but also memorialization such as putting up of landmarks, museum, restoring human dignity/ clearing name, (3) Prosecution, and (4) Guarantee of Non-recurrence which is composed of public vetting, strengthening judiciary system because the roots of conflicts are injustices.

Moreover, in the issue of lobbying the inclusion of children’s rights, Chairperson Latiph encouraged all the participants to share their data with the RHRC so he could write about the issues and submit it to the TJRC. He stressed that sharing of information to the policy makers is very integral in order to come up with decisions intelligently.

Representatives from CFSI, MYROi, MMI, UNICEF, DSWD-ARMM, DepEd-ARMM, YAPDN and DOH graced the said affair.

Indeed, there are countless issues and challenges confronting children’s welfare, thus, concerned organizations should stay steadfast in their primary mission of safeguarding children’s rights.

The Regional Human Rights Commission is always open to work with other organizations and agencies to promote and protect children’s rights.

“Kapehan sa RHRC” serves as a venue for the participants to enjoy a cup of coffee while discussing and sharing insights on the relevant issues and concerns in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

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