CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – A top-ranking official of the military here has decried the continued violation of the Communist Party of the Philippines–New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) on children's human rights.
Maj. Gen. Romeo S. Brawner Jr., Army’s 4th Infantry Division (4ID) commander said the violations on children rights and the International Humanitarian Law were very evident with the recent capture of NPA combatants in San Fernando, Bukidnon - who were all minors.
Brawner said during the recent encounter between the NPA rebels and elements of the 88th Infantry Battalion, 10 of the communist guerillas were captured and among them were minors.
Those minors were identified as Jef, male, 11; alias Taburok, female, 17; and alias Daniel, male, believed to be under 18. They were identified by the military through the help of the local social welfare officer Rebecca C. Marva in San Fernando.
“The NPA allowing minors to be with the group of armed men has clearly disregarded the safety and welfare of the children. Instead of protecting them, letting them go to school and enjoy their childhood, the NPA tramples children's rights by continuing to recruit minors who they can easily take advantage of and who are easily swayed by their false promises to join their senseless cause,” Brawner Jr. pointed out.
The three minors, the military official added, belong to the Platoon 1 of Guerilla Front Malayag of the Sub Regional Committee 2 of the North Central Mindanao Regional Committee. They were arrested in the forested area in Barangay Mabuhay, San Fernando, Bukidnon.
The 4th ID's top military official said these minor NPA combatants were fortunate enough that government troops captured and rescued them from the violent path and communist's exploitation of their young and innocent minds.
The military official cited Republic Act 11188, the “Special Protection of Children in Situations of Armed Conflict Act,” declares children as “zones of peace,” aimed at protecting children in situations of armed conflict from all forms of abuse and violence such as recruiting children into government armed forces and other armed groups.
“We must all condemn the NPA’s blatant violation of children’s rights. These minors were deceived and manipulated, we can prevent the NPA’s recruitment by monitoring the activities of our children and teaching them to be wary and vigilant against CNT and their front organizations”, Maj. Gen. Brawner Jr concluded.
Based on the record at the office of the 4th Infantry Division in Cagayan de Oro City, the number of minor NPA combatants who were captured and 'rescued' has now reached 62.
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