Unicef on Pikit student's slay: Unacceptable | Inquirer News
Cops report 2 more gun attacks in Cotabato town

Unicef on Pikit student’s slay: Unacceptable

05:00 AM February 17, 2023

COTABATO CITY—The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) has expressed deep concern over the gun attack that killed a 13-year-old boy in Cotabato province this week, in a wave of killings that rocked Pikit town since last year.


Behzad Noubary, Unicef Philippines deputy representative, said the killing of innocent children was “unacceptable and must stop.”

“Children must be protected at all times and their best interests must be the guiding principles in every action by the government and the community,” he said in a statement on Thursday.


Noubary was reacting to the killing of Fahad Dilabuan Guiamalon, 13, a junior high school student of Pikit National High School, who was on his way home to Barangay Macabual with two 12-year-old companions, when shot by their attackers on Tuesday (not Monday as earlier reported).

Lt. Col. John Miridel Calinga, Pikit police chief, said the minors were walking along an irrigation canal in Barangay Gli-Gli when their attackers, positioned across the canal, opened fire.

Col. Harold Ramos, Cotabato provincial police director, said the suspects had been “positively identified by witnesses.” A complaint, he said, is being prepared against them before the local prosecutor’s office.

Ramos condemned the gun attacks in Pikit and vowed to pursue the people behind the series of attacks as he appealed to other witnesses to come forward and provide information to help the police solve these cases. He promised to keep the identity of any informant confidential.

2 wounded

Pikit Mayor Sumulong Sultan has suspended classes in all levels in the town until Friday as authorities discussed ways to maintain peace and order and stop violence.

But on Thursday, two more people, including another minor, were wounded in separate gun attacks in the town.

At noon, a man driving a motorcycle loaded with a bag of cement, was shot along the national highway in Barangay Batulawan, said Calinga.


An hour later, a 16-year-old male high school student was injured when a gunman shot him near the town plaza. Both victims were taken to the Cruzado Medical Hospital in Barangay Poblacion.

Police could not say yet whether these attacks were related.

Noubary said that under the Convention on the Rights of the Child and Republic Act No. 7610, or the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act, the Philippines, including the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao had a legal and moral obligation to promote, protect and fulfill the rights of every child.

Caught in conflict

“In situations of violence and conflict, children continue to pay a heavy price,” he said.

Noubary noted that between 2005 and 2020, the United Nations had verified more than 266,000 grave violations against children in more than 30 conflict situations around the world.

In the Philippines, the UN Secretary General’s report on children and armed conflict in July last year noted 67 children who were killed and injured between Jan. 1, 2020, and Dec. 31, 2021.

“Conflict robs children of their life and childhood. Violence threatens children’s lives and well-being. They are denied access to education and essential services, and live in an atmosphere of fear. We need to end violence. Children are zones of peace,” Noubary said.

The municipal peace and order council of Pikit is set to convene on Friday to come up with measures to contain the violence that has sown fear among residents who had turned to social media to vent their frustrations.

Police refused to issue statistics on the number of people killed in the series of gun attacks in Pikit, which the mayor attributed to “rido” (family feud). But by the local media’s count, there had been 30 killings in the town since September last year, and all these remain unsolved.

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