DAVAO CITY, Philippines - It’s been two years since we were shockingly awakened by the tragic death of an innocent girl-child victim, Grecil Buya.
She was a frail child, an eager student, a responsible sister to her younger siblings, and a loving daughter to her hard-working peasant parents. Her parents and siblings are living in appalling conditions of poverty due to economic uncertainties and the disruptions brought about by continuous military operations in their community.
She was fatally hit with bullets in her elbow and head which caused her death during an encounter between the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the New People’s Army (NPA) near their residence in New Bataan, Compostela Valley Province on the morning of March 31, 2007.
According to the Regional Program Director of Children’s Rehabilitation Center – Southern Mindanao Regional Office (CRC-SMRO), Girley dela Cerna, “the military wittingly claimed that they killed the young child Grecil because she was an “NPA child soldier” and was good at maneuvering a rifle. But the 67th Infantry Battalion under the 1001st Infantry Brigade of the 10th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army retracted their position when found out in a series of investigations that Grecil was an innocent civilian, a child-victim not spared by their desperate attacks.”
“Two years had already passed but still, justice is elusive for the child-victim and her family. The family was already uprooted from their home place because of continuous military harassment and coercion to drop the case against them. Their economic activities were paralyzed as well as the rights of the children for recreation, development and protection. The family could not even visit the cemetery where Grecil was buried because until this time, the military is threatening the entire family including the children for arrest,” dela Cerna added.
“While the three remaining siblings had strive to overcome their deep traumatic experiences (countless nightmares, bed wetting, crying in their sleep), but how can these children surpass the scarred memories when they frequently see military men in uniform and tracking down their family’s residence? Until now, the family is not even protected and their lives are posed in great danger,” the CRC-SMRO director said.
“Grecil’s case could happen to any vulnerable children who can be legitimate targets of attack by State security forces who are militarizing civilian communities and implementing low intensity operations (LIO) under the framework of Oplan Bantay Laya. Gross violations on children’s rights continue to escalate while the Arroyo government is desperate in its drive to crush the insurgency through massive military operations. Through Oplan Bantay Laya, children are not spared from killing, maiming, torture, illegal arrests and detentions, and misrepresenting them as rebel “child soldiers” which are concrete violations of children’s human rights,” dela Cerna said
The 2nd-year death of Grecil will be commemorated through Interfaith Prayer and Candle lighting which will be held Tuesday at 5:00-6:00 p.m. at the Centennial Park in Davao City.
Child rights advocates as well as humanitarian groups will gather to lit candles for our unending quest for justice and peace. Justice for Grecil and all the children victims of state terrorism,” dela Cerna said.