Prioritize peace, protection of children in Mindanao – Gutoc
MANILA, Philippines – The Duterte administration should prioritize peace in Mindanao and stop the operations against alleged threat groups that can be characterized as a “war against children, families and internally displaced peoples (IDPs),” opposition senatorial candidate Samira Gutoc said Thursday.
“I appeal to the Duterte administration to please reconsider their ongoing offensives in parts of Mindanao, especially in Maguindanao. Let us prioritize peace, and ensure that the needs of the IDPs are given consistently and swiftly,” Gutoc said in a statement.
Gutos is in Marawi City to visit her hometown, including the most affected areas of the months-long siege in 2017.
Gutoc cited the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs’ March 25 Mindanao humanitarian report, which bared that the armed conflicts in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) resulted in the displacement of 49,300 people.
“Pinakamarami sa Maguindanao kung saan 35,200 people ang apektado,” the former ARMM assemblywoman added.
“Sa Shariff Aguak, may mga eskwelahan nagkakansela ng klase dahil ginagawang evacuation centers. Hindi lang mga estudyante ang apektado, pati magsasaka at mangingisda natin nahihirapan. Tagtuyot na nga, naeetsapwera pa sila sa mga bakbakan. Marami rin ang hindi makabalik sa kanilang mga tahanan dahil delikado,” she pointed out.
‘War against children’
What’s worse, Gutoc pointed out, is that the operations have displaced at least 76, 383 children, according to the Save the Children Philippines.
“This can be considered a war against our children, against the poor and vulnerable, as well as our IDPs. Ano po ang tugon ng ating gobyerno?” Gutoc asked.
The senatorial contender also asked military authorities if they conducted an assessment on the situation of children, families, and workers amid the infighting that is happening in parts of Mindanao.
“I issue this challenge to both camps involved in conflict, the military and the so-called threat groups: Prioritize peace, and the welfare of our children,” Gutoc added. / gsg
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