MANILA - The rights body of the Philippine National Police(PNP) revealed Tuesday that minors were spotted during pro-administration and opposition demonstrations at Batasan Pambansa during President Rodrigo Duterte's State of the Nation Address last Monday.
According to Police Brig. Gen. Dennis Siervo, head of the PNP-Human Rights Affairs Office (PNP-HRAO), there were around 20 minors present during the demonstrations based on photos taken by human rights police officers.
Some parents reportedly carried 3-year-old babies, while children with ages 5-10 marched alongside their parents during the demonstrations.
Siervo said it was dangerous for parents to bring their children to rallies.
“Bakit may mga minors? Alam naman natin na malakas ang ulan, hindi conducive para magdala ng bata doon. Magkakasakit sila or kung sakaling may gulo, maaapektuhan pa ang mga minors doon,” Siervo said.
HRAO officers tried to ward off the kids to safety but were surprised when the rallyists themselves said they had brought the children since they could not leave them at home.
“Kung walang mapag-iwanan, huwag silang pumunta sa rally, kasi dapat hindi nila iwanan ang bata. Hindi yung kailangan pa nilang pumunta sa rally kaysa mas alagaan ang mga bata. Ano ba ang priority nila, ang mga anak nila o ang rally?” Siervo said.
“Sa oras na may gulo, nandoon na rin ang mga bata. Sa amin hindi kami makikipag-engage kung meron kaming nakitang mga minors diyan. Hindi dapat maisama rito ang mga bata,” he added.
PNP-HRAO said they immediately reported the incident to the PNP Women and Children Protection Center(WCPC).
WCPC Director PBrig. Gen. William Macavinta revealed they were ready to intervene and rescue the children then but the parents appealed to authorities.
The PNP said they have asked for help from the Department of Social Welfare and Development to educate parents not to bring their children during rallies.