MANILA, June 23 (Mabuhay) — The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UN’s child rights advocacy organization, on Wednesday said it is “deeply concerned” with the recent deaths of children in police and military operations in the Philippines.

In a statement, Oyunsaikhan Dendevnorov, UNICEF’s representative to the Philippines, lamented the killings of Johndy Maglinte Helis, 16, during a police anti-drug operation in Biñan, Laguna, and 12-year-old Angel Rivas during a military operation in Lianga, Surigao del Sur.

In relation to the tragic incidents, Dendevnorov underscored a strategic plan between the UN body and Armed Forces of the Philippines which states that the military should prevent grave child rights violation (GCRV).

“Under the Strategic Plan to Prevent and Respond to Grave Child Rights Violations in Situations of Armed Conflict, signed between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the United Nations Country Taskforce on Monitoring and Reporting, the AFP commits to prevent the perpetration of all GCRVs within the AFP and other groups under the employ of the AFP,” she said.

The military said the minor was a communist rebel and condemned the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People’s Army, for recruiting child warriors.

After Rivas’ body was found with stitches and covered in tape, her family believed that she was raped. Aside from Rivas, her sister, Leni, and cousin, Willy, were also killed in the military operation.

Meanwhile, UNICEF said the Philippine National Police (PNP) must adopt its Child Protection Policy, which requires “respecting the rights of children to dignity and protection from degradation, humiliation, exploitation and assault.”

“Ending further loss of children’s lives to violence must be everyone’s priority,” Dendevnorov said.

UNICEF also took note of PNP’s initiative in probing the bloody Laguna operation, Dendevnorov added.

The PNP said it is investigating the Laguna operation and has identified the policemen involved in the shooting incident. (MNS)

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