Children write letters to Duterte asking for the end of martial law in Mindanao

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 23) — Please end martial law.

Children from Metro Manila and Lumad communities made this appeal in letters addressed to President Rodrigo Duterte ahead of his State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday.

The militant group Salinlahi Alliance for Children's Concerns gathered over two dozen children at the University of the Philippines Diliman Saturday to write letters to the President and talk about what he should focus on in his second year in office.

Fifteen-year-old lumad Genasque Enriquez Jr. asks Duterte to lift martial law since it has affected his studies at the Alternative Learning Center for Agriculture and Development or Alcadev in Surigao del Sur.

READ: Congress grants Duterte's request to extend martial law in Mindanao until end of year

He claims students have seen more soldiers around their campus since martial law was declared in May, a sight which has made them fear going to school.

Enriquez says, "Di kami makapagpatuloy sa pag-aaral dahil sa militarisasyon... Kung hindi kami makapagpatuloy sa aming pag-aaral, paano na?"

[Translation: We can't go to school because ot the militarization... If we can't continue with our studies, what will happen to us?]

Gleeza Zoi, a Grade 9 student from Alcadev, says she feels uneasy seeing military aircraft at night.

She said, "Pinakauna sa buong buhay ko na nakakita ng eroplano na lumilipad sa aming paaralan na paikut-ikot... Nakakabahan, natatakot ang mga estudyante sa loob ng dormitory namin."

[Translation: For the first time in my life, II saw a plane circling my school... It's worrying, students in our dorm are scared.]

With Congress voting to extend martial law until the end of the year, Zoi fears it's not only military aircraft she will be seeing more of.

"Natatakot kami kung ano na naman kaya ang mangyayari sa amin na ma-extend pa ng mahabang panahon ang martial law," she said

[Translation: We're afraid of what could happen to us now that martial law has been extended.]

READ: Maranao turns emotional as she cites human rights violations in Marawi

Salinlahi Secretary General Eule Rico Bonganay says the mention of martial law in the children's letters show they are also affected by it.

He said, "Nagkakaisa yung mga bata na hindi dapat ideklara o iextend ang martial law dahil una ay nagbunsod lamang mga matinding violation sa karapatan ng mga bata."

On Monday, the children will march to Batasang Pambansa carrying their notes for the President and the big letter containing their appeal to end martial law.

It is their hope that Duterte will listen to their small voices amid the noise of rallies and the sound of applause for the SONA.