Extrajudicial killings’ martyred children | Inquirer Opinion

Extrajudicial killings’ martyred children

/ 12:30 AM April 11, 2014

No words can describe our anger as we commemorate the death anniversary of Roque Antivo, the 8-year-old boy who succumbed to death at the very hands of elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in Compostela Valley. Our anguish is fueled all the more by the indifference of the Aquino administration, which remains deaf to the cry for justice.

In the evening of April 3 last year, Roque, together with his brother Alvin, 12, and uncle Jonas, 13, was going home when soldiers from the Philippine Army’s Alpha Company of the 71st Infantry Battalion 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 pain while the perpetrators remain at large. Murder complaints against the perpetrators in the strafing incident were filed before the Compostela Valley provincial prosecutor but these were dismissed in September 2013.

The accused soldiers and the Aquino administration have escaped accountability by offering a cold-hearted justification of their atrocious military operations, saying that children are “unfortunate collateral damage” of armed encounters.


The government is responsible not only for Roque’s death but also for the deaths of other children they have classified as “collateral damage.” Since President Aquino assumed office  in 2010, 18 children have been killed by the military. This is not to mention the thousands of victims of frustrated murder, torture, rape, abduction, forcible evacuation, attacks on schools and the branding of child-victims as child soldiers. These incidences 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 Aquino administration’s highly-taunted counterinsurgency program, Oplan Bayanihan, has prolonged the quest of the victims and their family for justice in the face of the conspiracy of government agencies involved and cover-up attempts to save the perpetrators of the crime. Roque’s case only demonstrates the government’s fascist character.

Rubbing salt on the wound, human rights violators among state forces are even being promoted and assigned to higher posts.

Mr. Aquino is nothing but callous to children’s rights and welfare, while the Armed Forces of the Philippines is being used 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 the Aquino administration’s blood-tainted human rights record.

Now, more than ever, we demand justice for Roque Antivo and all the child-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.


executive director,


Children’s Rehabilitation Center,

[email protected]

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TAGS: Alpha Company, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Compostela Valley, extrajudicial killings, Philippine army, Roque Antivo
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