In August, the Working Group received the Secretary-General’s (SG) fifth report (S/2020/777) on children and armed conflict (CAAC) in the Philippines, covering the period from January 2017 to December 2019. During this period, the Country Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting (CTFMR) verified 331 grave violations, impacting 233 children (121 boys, 96 girls, 16 of unknown gender), and the detention of 51 children (23 girls, 28 boys) by Government Forces. Killing and maiming was the predominant violation verified during the period. Despite improvements in the legal framework to protect children, in all 35 cases of children detained in 2019, the national protocols and standards for treatment of children were not respected. Attacks against schools, hospitals, and their personnel (98) increased compared to the previous reporting period (32), with the majority of verified incidents taking place in the context of the Marawi siege. UNICEF has expressed concerns about serious threats made by Government Security Forces and paramilitary groups against teachers and schools in indigenous peoples’ communities. Access constraints, security restraints, restricted freedom of movement under martial law, and lack of dedicated capacity all impacted the ability of the CTFMR to verify grave violations. The Working Group should:

  • Urge all listed parties to immediately end the recruitment and use of children, release those within their ranks, and if they have not yet done so, engage with the UN to develop and implement action plans to end and prevent all six grave violations;
  • Welcoming the passing of the Special Protection of Children in Situations of Armed Conflict Act (Republic Act No. 11188), express grave concern that its protocols and protection standards have not been fully implemented, particularly regarding the treatment of children affected by the armed conflict primarily as victims and ensuring their swift handover to civilian child protection authorities, and urge the Government to take immediate steps to ensure these standards are fully and consistently implemented;
  • Urge all parties to immediately end attacks against schools, hospitals, and protected personnel, and to uphold their obligations under IHL and IHRL; further call on the Government to end the military use of schools, cease all threats against learning centers and education personnel, and endorse and implement the Safe Schools Declaration;
  • Urge all parties to facilitate the safe, unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance to all children and other civilians in need;
  • Call on the Government to end impunity for grave violations committed against children, particularly rape and other forms of sexual violence against children, ensure independent investigation and prosecution in accordance with Republic Act No. 11188, and provide comprehensive, gender-sensitive, and age-appropriate response and protection for child survivors of sexual violence.

This information is based on Watchlist’s Children and Armed Conflict Monthly Update: October 2020.

UN Action

Year listed: 2003
Action Plans signed: No
Previous Action Plans: MILF – recruitment and use of children (July 2009) *Delisted in 2017 following compliance with Action Plan.
Sanctions Committee: No
Secretary-General’s reports on CAAC in Philippines: 2020; 2017; 2013; 20102008
Security Council Working Group conclusions on Philippines: 2020; 2017; 2014; 20102008

Perpetrators listed in the annexes of the Secretary-General’s annual reports on children and armed conflict

2001 2002 2003 2005 2006 2007 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
New People’s Army (NPA)* a a a a a a a a a a a a a a
Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)~* a a a a, b a a a a a a a a a
Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) a
Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG)* a a a a a a a a a a a a a a
Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) a a a a

a: Parties that recruit and use children
b: Parties that kill and maim children
c: Parties that commit rape and other forms of sexual violence against children

d: Parties that engage in attacks on schools and/or hospitals
e: Parties that engage in abduction of children
f: Parties that deny humanitarian access to children

~ This party has concluded an action plan with the United Nations in line with Security Council resolutions 1539 (2004) and 1612 (2005).
* This party has been in the annexes for at least five years and is therefore considered a persistent perpetrator.