Protect the child survivor of the Sagay 9 massacre!

NDFP Special Office for the Protection of Children head Coni Ledesma / NDFP archive

Day by day, the so-called investigation of the Sagay 9 massacre being conducted by the Philippine National Police (PNP) has been taking one farcical turn after another.

First, the military maliciously Red-tagged the victims, who included two minors, as if to justify their deaths. Then, the AFP and PNP baselessly accuse the New People’s Army (NPA) of killing them as part of an imagined plot to oust Duterte. To stoke the fire further, the PNP takes into its custody a 14-year old boy who survived the massacre, saying he is a witness but also a potential suspect. With the AFP and PNP’s insistence on putting false blame on the NPA for the killings, the boy is in danger of being branded a child soldier. His safety and security may now be compromised.

The boy, who had just narrowly escaped death himself, needs psycho-social support and the nurture of his family. More than this, he and all the victims of this heinous massacre need justice.

It is a good thing that the child has finally been returned to his mother, thanks to the intervention of a human rights lawyer and other human and child rights activists. The last thing the boy needs is to be victimized and traumatized twice over by being treated like a criminal.

Who knows to what absurd lengths the Duterte regime is willing to go to prevent the real criminals–the big landlords and the paramilitary forces in their employ–from being held accountable for the massacre of the Sagay 9?

Duterte has already set the tone for the “investigation” by threatening all farmers engaged in “bungkalan” against asserting their right to plant food crops on idle lands to stave off hunger. He has turned the victims into villains, but has not uttered a word against the hunger and crushing poverty caused by widespread landlessness in the countryside.

Now among the most vulnerable of the Sagay 9 massacre survivors, the 14-year old needs urgent intervention from human rights, civic and religious organizations and concerned individuals. The NDFP SOPC calls on them to come to the aid of this child. His parents or guardians, his teachers, people from his community must stand up and vouch for him to prevent the AFP and PNP from further violating his rights.

The NDFP-Special Office for the Protection of Children is willing to provide support and assistance should the boy and his family request it.

Protect the child survivor of the Sagay 9 massacre!