MANILA, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner /Dec. 18, 2007) - Children, who were victims of human rights violations from different parts of the Philippines, trooped Tuesday to the office of the Commission on Human Rights to present their plight resulting from militarization of their communities.
“They are seeking a precious gift this Christmas from the government – that is justice. And we hope that the government will not disappoint the children this time,” Maria Esmeralda Macaspac, Executive Director of the Children’s Rehabilitation Center (CRC), told the Mindanao Examiner.
CRC is a non-government organization providing psycho-social help to children-victims of human rights violations.
Particularly highlighted in the dialogue were the cases of the children internal refugees from Lianga, Surigao del Sur and General Luna, Quezon provinces who remain in evacuation centers to date; children-victims of torture by the military in Parola, Tondo; a 16-year old girl who was maimed by indiscriminate fire and charged with rebellion; and children of alleged Abu Sayyaf prisoners in the police base called Camp Bagong Diwa in Quezon City.
The CRC conducted a workshop with the children to facilitate their psychological release through peer sharing and counselling. “Their experiences were contextualized with discussions on children’s rights and the whole situation of Filipino children. From there, they were able to come up with the concrete response they seek from the government regarding their plight,” said Macaspac.
Aside from the CHR, the children are scheduled to go to the House of Representatives and the Senate to seek the help of their representatives.
“These children have been deprived of their rights. Now, we are facilitating the children’s exercise of their right to free expression to the right channels. Hopefully, this will send a message to them that even as children, they have the right to be heard,” Macaspac added.