By ALDWIN QUITASOL
Posted by Bulatlat.com
BAGUIO CITY — The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) rebutted the claims of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)-Civil Relations Service that the New People’s Army (NPA) has recruited 340 children since 1999 where 209 allegedly “surrendered”, 119 “captured” and 12 “killed in combat”.
In a statement posted at its website, the CPP said these claims are completely unfounded and are mere desperate attempts to malign the image of the NPA before the public and the local and international human rights bodies. “The CPP declares with full conviction that the NPA does not recruit children.”
“The NPA upholds and defends the interests of children in line with the CPP’s Program for a People’s Democratic Revolution, the Basic Rules of the New People’s Army, the Guide for Establishing the People’s Democratic Government, the Geneva Conventions and Protocols on International Humanitarian Law and Rules on Warfare, the United Nations’ Declaration of the Rights of the Child, and the Comprehensive Agreement for the Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law,” stated the CPP.
The CPP added that the figures being claimed by the AFP are only fabricated by the military’s psywar mechanisms. The CPP said the children cited in the AFP’s report were actually victims of the AFP’s military operations. The operations the CPP said have blatantly disregarded the rights and welfare of civilians including children in the rural communities suspected of supporting the revolutionary movement.
The CPP cited a nine -year old schoolgirl Grecil Buya who was killed by elements of the 10st Brigade in a military operation in New Bataan, Compostela Valley in March 31, 2007. The AFP claimed that the victim was an NPA “child combatant” and even took photos of her body with an M-16 rifle placed beside her. The AFP’s report, however, was contradicted by the results of investigations conducted by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and other independent groups and organizations.
The CPP also cited Michelle Adelantar, 17, who was taken into custody by the AFP last February of this year in San Jose de Buan, Western Samar. The military claimed the teenager was a combatant. “The military’s accusation against Michelle was made on the utterly stupid logic that her parents and siblings are members of the CPP and NPA,” stated the CPP.
Adelantar is with the Department of Social Welfare and Development despite demands from her family and relatives for her release.
According to the CPP, in June 2009, the AFP has also accused Joel “Dayucdoc” Silvestre of being an NPA “child warrior.” Joel is a mentally-handicapped 13-year old and resident of Barangay Montalban, Matuguinao in Western Samar.
“The AFP committed a series of grave violations of the boy’s rights. The personnel of the AFP’s 8th ID took advantage of Joel’s mental handicap by tricking him and taking him into custody. He was brought along the AFP’s military operations, made to carry a gun and forced to identify alleged members of the NPA in their community. He was then exhibited before the media who were even encouraged to take photographs and videos of him,” said the CPP.
The CPP said that it maintains a strict policy to prohibit the recruitment of children below 18. This, the CPP said is strictly observed by all units of the NPA.
“For several years now, we have invited representatives of the United Nations and other independent bodies to visit units of the NPA and areas of operations of these units to see for themselves how the revolutionary movement upholds its policy of prohibiting the recruitment of children, and furthermore, how the rights and welfare of children are respected and promoted in the revolutionary areas.” the CPP added.
The CPP said the Philippine government and the AFP have persistently prevented international observers from engaging with the revolutionary movement on the question of children’s rights.
The CPP added it has churned out baseless figures accusing the NPA of violating children’s rights while preventing independent observers from verifying these claims.
According to the CPP, a report by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) revealed that 215, 233 children were victims of AFP military operations where 215,060 were victimized by forced evacuations. According to the report, 58 children were killed and another 58 survived. The report further noted 10 children have disappeared, 40 maimed, 17 tortured, 8 were sexually abused, 51 fell victims of illegal search and seizure, 63 coerced, 69 were illegally arrested and detained, 40 were physically assaulted and injured and 196 were threatened and intimidated.
The Unicef report also cited 106 orphaned children and many of them witnessed the killing of their parents and relatives by the government military.
In a recent report to the UN General Assembly, the UN Secretary General cited cases where the AFP has been using children to carry supplies and as intelligence gatherers. Many of these were in Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) areas where children have been illegally detained by the AFP for alleged association with MILF forces.
According to the report, three children were blindfolded and mistreated by elements of the Philippine Army’s 7th and 40th IB in an attempt to force out of them confessions admitting to be members of MILF.
“In truth, it is the AFP that is biggest violator of children’s rights in the Philippines. Hundred of thousands of children have been victimized by the AFP’s military operations that have invariably targeted civilian communities in the fascist military’s desperation to put an end to the people’s revolutionary armed resistance,” stated the CPP. (Posted by Bulatlat.com)