Child rights group slams police statement on women, children protesters in SONA rally

July 30, 2014

Mothers from urban poor communities bring their children in protests because no one else would look after them. Besides, children who are old enough to understand social issues have every right to join protests, said Salinlahi. <strong>Macky Macaspac</strong>

Mothers from urban poor communities bring their children in protests because no one else would look after them. Besides, children who are old enough to understand social issues have every right to join protests, said Salinlahi. Macky Macaspac

Child rights advocates slammed Metro Manila Police Director Carmelo Valmoria for accusing protesters of human rights violation for bringing minors to the rally against President Aquino’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 28.

“The PNP is continually hitting the issue of children’s participation in rallies in order to mislead the public and cover up their abuses and infringement of people’s rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of speech,” said Salinlahi Alliance for Children’s Concerns in a statement.

The group said that the PNP’s statement was based purely out of ignorance of children’s rights and was meant to help absolve them of own violations during the rally.

Kharlo Manano, secretary general of Salinlahi, cited the dispersal made by the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) of Barangay Holy Spirit residents who were massing up in preparation for the SONA rally in front of Sandiganbayan.

“The declaration made by the PNP that women and children are being ‘used’ in protest actions clearly belittles their right to meaningful participation and reflects the PNP’s ignorance of women and children’s rights,”   said Manano.

According to Manano, a QCPD team led by a certain Police Superintendent Pagulayan used a stun gun to attack  Rodel Torotola, 38, and his daughter Rochel Torotola. “She was sitting inside their jeepney together with her father, when Pagulayan approached her father and forcibly got his key. They were later forcibly dragged down from the jeepney,” Manano said.

Manano added that when Rodel was about to file a blotter, he was threatened to be incarcerated by certain PO2 Mary Jane Casinao of QCPD women’s desk for taking his child to the rally.

“Now, they are accusing militants of violating human rights for bringing women and children in the SONA rally,” said Manano.

Women’s group Gabriela, meanwhile, described the police statement as a form of “macho mentality” among policemen. Joms Salvador, secretary general of Gabriela, said that Valmoria should review the trainings on human rights law given by the Commission on Human Rights.

“He should review the law that states that children have also rights to free expression.  If the police force mindset is like Valmoria’s, CHR’s funds were wasted,” said Salvador.