No words can describe our anger as we commemorate the death anniversary of Roque Antivo, an 8-year old boy, who met death at the very hands of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) elements in Compostela Valley. Our torment is sharpened as the Aquino government remains deaf and blind to the cry and clamor for justice.
In the evening of April 3rd last year, Roque was going home together with his brother Alvin, 12 and uncle Jonas, 13, when soldiers from the Alpha Company of the 71st Infantry Battalion Philippine Army open fired at them. Roque was instantly killed while his two companions sustained injuries.
Roque’s family and human rights advocates shed tears and endured prolonged pains while the perpetrators remain at large. Murder complaints against the perpetrators in the strafing incident were filed before the Compostela Valley Provincial Prosecutor but were dismissed last September (2013).
The soldiers involved and the Aquino government have escaped from accountability by legitimizing their atrocious military operations and giving the unreasonable excuse that the children were “unfortunate collateral damage” of an armed encounter.
The government is not only responsible for taking away Roque’s life but of the lives of other children whom they unfeelingly categorized as “collateral damage.”
Since President BS Aquino III assumed presidency in 2010, eighteen (18) children have been killed by the military along with thousands of cases including frustrated killing, torture, rape, abduction, forcible evacuation, attacks on schools and branding of children victims as child soldiers. These incidents of grave human rights violations expose the problematic justice system in the country and the reign of the culture of impunity.
Moreover, the intensification of the highly-taunted Aquino’s counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan has prolonged the quest of the victims and their family for justice through the conspiracy of government agencies involved and cover up for the perpetrators. Roque’s case has only demonstrated the government’s fascist character.
Rubbing salt to the victims’ wounds, human rights violators among state forces are in fact even promoted to higher posts.
BS Aquino is absolutely callous to children’s rights and welfare while the Armed forces of the Philippines (AFP) is no less than an instrument to suppress the rights of people, even children. Hence, for child rights advocates, it is necessary to persevere in exposing and fighting BS Aquino’s blood-tainted human rights record.
Now, more than ever, we demand justice for Roque Antivo and all the children victims of extrajudicial killings. The victims’ families and child rights advocates will continue to brave the storm of injustice and impunity under the Aquino administration.
Although the light of hope for the victims is dim, the crusade won’t stop.
Roque and other children martyred by this cold-hearted government serve as our undying inspiration to continue our cause.
#90 J.Bugallon St. Project 4
Brgy Bagumbuhay, Quezon City, Philippines