BBL ‘death’ spells rise in children affected by Mindanao conflict
A head of a nongovernment organization on Tuesday sounded the alarm that many children may be affected by the possibility of renewed radicalism in Mindanao following the “death” of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in the 16th Congress.
During a forum held in Quezon City, Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD) executive director Romeo Dongeto said children would be the sector most vulnerable with regard to the renewed conflict in the region.
Citing studies and government data to prove his claim, Dongeto said displacement and destruction brought by conflict had lasting negative impacts on children.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) estimates that there are 30,000 to 50,000 children affected by armed conflict in the country.
Dongeto also said some children were being used as “instruments of violence” as some were recruited “as combatants, porters, or human shields.”
On his part, Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat emphasized the need to invest in children’s future by building an enabling environment for them.
“The children are our future. Investing in children benefits the country in the long run and empowering children is key in building enduring peace in Mindanao,” Baguilat said.
On Jan. 28, House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. put a nail in the coffin for BBL after declaring it had no chance of being passed in the current Congress.
Malacañang, in a separate statement, said it would continue with the peace process in Mindanao. RC
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