Saturday, September 17, 2011

Bishop urges military to stop encampment in civilian areas

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Sept. 17, 2011) – A Philippine bishop has called on President Benigno Aquino to stop the military’s continued encampment in civilian areas following the killing of a seven-year old girl by a government soldier in Compostela Valley province in Mindanao.

Bishop Modesto Villasanta, convener of Exodus for Justice and Peace (EJP), said Sunshine Jabinez was killed after a soldier, Private First Class Baltazar Ramos, who ran amuck fired his machine gun and hit the girl who was inside their house near a military camp in the village of Napnapan in Pantukan town.

“Is there no safer place for children to live? Even in the confines of their own homes, they are threatened and worse, killed. To suffer thy children is among the worst crimes anyone could commit,” he said. “Military presence does not provide a good and safe atmosphere for our children and the civilians.”
The bishop urged the government to stop the military’s continued encampment in civilian – populated communities.

“Jabinez’s death sends out a strong message that the path the government and military is taking is not the way to peace. There can be no peace and development if children’s lives are at the risk, at the mercy of the military’s guns,” he said.

“The worsening human rights situation of children in our country indicates how far worse the rest of the people are faring at the wake of combat heavy military operations that target even civilian communities, including children’s schools, clinics, gyms and barangay halls. This is not the way to genuine peace,” he added.

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