MANILA, Philippines — Child rights groups said they will coordinate with the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to verify reports that some lumad (Indigenous Peoples) schools are allegedly being run by the communist New People’s Army.
“As we said, we are working with PNP and AFP about that [red-tagging] at vine-verify naman po yung reports of certain activities that may be inclined to leftist,” Normina Mojica, planning officer in Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC), said in a press conference on the Special Protection for Children in Situations of Armed Conflict Act in Quezon City on Tuesday.
This was under the Implementation of Rules and Regulations (IRR) of Special Protection for Children in Situations of Armed Conflict Act which was earlier signed by government agencies, including PNP and AFP.
The law, approved on Jan. 10, aims to extend protection for children in situations of armed conflict (CSAC) from all forms of abuse, violence, cruelty and discrimination.
Under the law, an adoption of “expanded definition of schools and health facilities will allow wider protection of children.”
READ: ‘Red-tagging’ of lumad worsens under martial law in Mindanao
According to Mojica, this means places and structures must be accredited by government agencies to ensure that a safe learning environment for children.
“It can be a place for our children who are studying or learning so dapat accredited ng gov’t or recognized ng community as a [learning] space,” Mojica said.
“Alam naman po natin siyempre sa remote areas, ‘di naman necessarily na may existing na schools diyan,” she added.
The measure ordered the PNP and AFP to undertake measures to address factors of armed conflict and implement measures for rehabilitation of children.
To recall, President Rodrigo Duterte placed Mindanao under martial law back in 2017 after terrorist groups and state forces clashed in Marawi City.
With martial rule in effect, the “red-tagging” of residents especially lumad teachers and students has become rampant.
In a speech in July 2017, Duterte also accused members of the Indigenous Peoples community of having connections with communist rebels and even ordered the military to close down lumad schools.