2-month-old baby and pregnant women included in latest victims of AFP’s counterinsurgency tactics

The Center for Women’s Resources joins human rights groups and women’s and child rights organizations in condemning the Philippine military for violating the International Humanitarian Law (IHL) when they held hostage a 2-month-old infant and two pregnant women in a desperate attempt to force surrenderers among revolutionaries.
Baby Rhea, whose parents are both NPA (New People’s Army) fighters, was born while her mother was held captive by the AFP. Baby Rhea was eventually turned over to her grandmother after subsequent demands by different groups.

The 402nd Infantry Brigade of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) also kidnapped and currently holds hostage Aurily Havana (‘Ka Layza’) and Jennifer Binungkasan (‘Ka Laile’), both on medical leave. Aurily is also pregnant. The military violated the IHL and Geneva Convention by abducting and detaining them in secret, not charging them in court, and denying their right to legal representation and rights as prisoners of war since their capture last November 3, 2022. To date, their condition and location remain unknown.

During counterinsurgency operations, women and children are most vulnerable. In rural areas, women and children bear the brunt of military operations, when their communities are targeted for bombing operations, hamletting, threats, and harassment. This is despite the UN Special Rapporteur (UN SR) recommendation in 2007 to the Philippine government to take concrete steps and put an end to those aspects [that target civilians] of counterinsurgency operations.

On the other hand, the military employs violence against activists and women revolutionaries to dampen their spirits and discourage them from doing their work. Kidnapping Baby Rhea and abducting the two women are examples of this grave abuse.
If the government is determined to address the armed conflict, it needs to resolve the basic issues of poverty, landlessness, inequity, and inequality – the root causes of unrest in the country. The peace process between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) presents an important opportunity to address these basic issues. Alongside this, it is important that state agents follow the rules of war and stop their dirty tactics that target and further abuse women and children.

Uphold the International Humanitarian Law!
Defend Filipino Women!

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