The Philippines army should stop its unlawful use of schools in northern Luzon island for military purposes, which is a violation of Philippine and international law, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said in a statement.
The army’s presence raised concerns of potential attacks on the schools by opposition armed groups and the possibility of inappropriate conduct by soldiers towards the students, HRW said.
“Establishing army camps at schools puts both children’s security and their education at risk,” Bede Sheppard, HRW’s senior children’s rights researcher, said.
“President Aquino should order the troops to get out, and stay out, of schools,” he added.
The northern Luzon region has been affected by a long-running armed conflict between the Philippine government and Maoist guerrillas, called the New People’s Army.
HRW said a recent eight-day investigation in northern Luzon found five cases in which the military had used parts of functioning schools as barracks or bases for military detachments since 2009. The military had used the schools for between three months or more than a year.
Teachers, principals and government officials told HRW that troops distracted students from their studies and brought weapons, alcohol and pornography onto school grounds.
According to HRW, the Philippine government banned the use of schools for military purposes in 1992 in response to abuses under the government of Ferdinand Marcos.
Maoists have been fighting to overthrow successive governments for more than 40 years and rights groups have accused both government forces and the rebels of serious violations of the laws of war. -By Thin Lei Win