Coni K. Ledesma
Head, Special Office for the Protection of Children
Human Rights Committee, NDFP
One of the early pronouncements of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte as President in 2016 was that he was willing to talk peace with the revolutionary movement. The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) was optimistic and ever willing to propel the peace negotiations forward towards new comprehensive agreements such as the Comprehensive Agreement for Social and Economic Reforms (GASER).
It was a welcome initiative and the NDFP was eager to pursue the offer of peace negotiations by the President. Indeed, all his promises during the campaign and the initial months of his Presidency seemed to indicate that the country could take one step forward to addressing the roots of the armed conflict and achieving a just and lasting peace.
Fast forward to 2019, three years into the term of President Duterte and it is now indubitably clear that the only thing that Duterte has proven is his unbridled readiness to destroy democratic institutions and violate basic human rights in pursuit of his intent to establish a dictatorial regime. Many in the country and in the international community, including the United Nations, have strongly denounced the human rights violations being committed upon Duterte’s instigation by state forces against ordinary workers and peasants, women and children, whether they are waging armed resistance or not.
This publication of the Special office for the Protection of Children (SOPC), under the Human Rights Committee of the NDFP, is a summary report on how rampant human rights violations were committed against Filipino children in the first half of the Duterte regime. It leaves no room for doubt that the regime includes children as direct targets in its vicious drug war and counter-insurgency campaign.
“The NDFP regards the continuing gross and systematic violations of the human rights of the majority of Filipino children by the ruling system of big compradors and landlords as one of the compelling reasons for the revolutionary struggle of the Filipino people.”