Published on 05 Apr 2017 — View Original
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The present report, submitted pursuant to Security Council resolution 1612 (2005) and subsequent resolutions, is the fourth on children and armed conflict in the Philippines submitted by the Secretary-General. It contains information on the six grave violations against children and, more broadly, on the situation of children affected by armed conflict during the period from 1 December 2012 to 31 December 2016.
The report highlights trends and patterns of grave violations committed against children by all parties to the conflict and illustrates that conflict continues to negatively affect children, in particular in indigenous communities. The report also sets out progress made in addressing the protection of children affected by conflict, including through the establishment of government mechanisms and the implementation of an action plan with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
Lastly, the report contains a series of recommendations to end and prevent grave violations against children in the Philippines and to improve their protection.
1. The present report, prepared pursuant to Security Council resolution 1612 (2005) and subsequent resolutions on children and armed conflict, is the fourth report on the Philippines submitted to the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict. It covers the period from 1 December 2012 to 31 December 2016 and describes trends and patterns of grave violations against children that have occurred since my previous report (S/2013/419). Where possible, the report identifies the parties responsible for grave violations against children and highlights areas for advocacy and response to enhance the protection of children. The report also describes progress made in ending and preventing grave violations against children. Finally, the report provides a list of recommendations to all parties and actors concerned to improve the protection of children in conflict-affected areas and end and prevent grave violations.
2. Since insecurity and access restrictions to remote areas complicated monitoring and reporting activities, the figures detailed in the report do not reflect the full scope of violations against children. Nonetheless, available data illustrate that children continue to be negatively affected by the conflict, in particular in indigenous communities.
3. In the annexes to my most recent annual report on children and armed conflict, dated 20 April 2016 (A/70/836-S/2016/360), the Abu Sayyaf Group, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the New People’s Army are listed in the annexes for the recruitment and use of children.
II. Overview of political and security developments
A. Political developments
4. The administration of President Benigno Aquino III continued to pursue negotiations with a number of armed groups in an effort to address long-running conflicts on Mindanao island. After a seven-year impasse, formal talks between the Government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, a coalition of left-leaning groups that includes the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army, resumed in 2011. However, no formal peace agreement was reached and those discussions remained at an impasse on the eve of the presidential election in May 2016.
5. Previously, in October 2012, the Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front had signed the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro, which culminated in the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro in March 2014, which officially concluded 17 years of peace negotiations. The Bangsamoro Basic Law, which would have established the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region, was submitted to Congress by President Aquino on 10 September 2014. However, following the so-called Mamasapano incident, a clash between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and government forces in January 2015 in Maguindanao Province, Congress was unable to agree on the passage of the law before going into recess in February 2016. Despite that setback, both the Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front declared their continued commitment to pursue a peace agenda.
6. Presidential elections were held in the Philippines in May 2016 and President Rodrigo Duterte was inaugurated on 30 June 2016. The new administration has since set out its peace and development framework aimed at ending the long-standing conflicts with the communist insurgency and Moro secessionist groups.
7. In June 2016, President Duterte met with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Moro National Liberation Front to discuss the next steps in the peace process. The two Moro groups agreed to collectively undertake an intra-Moro dialogue with the objective of arriving at an inclusive solution for the Bangsamoro. On 7 November, the President signed an executive order creating a new Bangsamoro Transition Commission, tasked with drafting a new version of the Bangsamoro Basic Law. The President also initiated exploratory talks with representatives of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines in Oslo in preparation for the planned resumption of the peace negotiations. Following an agreement to resume formal peace negotiations in July, the two parties met for two rounds of formal talks in August and October, but at the time of writing no permanent ceasefire had been reached.