Lopsided against liberation movements
Agacoili explained that the first time the UN Secretary General cited the NPA for alleged recruitment and use of children was in November 2002.
“This was right after the CPP, NPA and Prof. Jose Maria Sison were put in the ‘terrorist’ list in August and October 2002 by the governments of the United States and European Union member-states at at the instigation and lobbying of the Government of the Philippines,” he said.
Agacoili said that the UN has not considered the declarations of the CPP against the recruitment of minors into the NPA.
“Thereafter, the NPA has been listed in Annex II of the yearly reports of the UN Secretary General on children and armed conflict for alleged recruitment and use of children based on biased reports by agencies of the GPH AFP and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and on a mere general statement and/or unsubstantiated allegations by unidentified sources, as well as the unjust and unwarranted application of the Paris Principles on the NPA,” he said.
The Paris Principles are the operational guidelines related to sustainable reintegration of children formerly associated with armed forces and groups.They were approved in 2007 during a Ministerial level meeting at UN Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. As of the year 2009, the number of States to have endorsed the commitments has increased to 84, the latest being Albania, the Central African Republic, Eritrea, Guinea, Jamaica, Liechtenstein, Panama and Senegal.
Agcaoili said that it should be noted that the Paris Principles is not an international instrument.
“It’s lopsidedly against national liberation movements and is violative of the rights of children to live with their families in communities of their choice and to believe in the aspirations of their parents for an independent, just and prosperous Philippine society,” he said.
The chairman of the NDFP Human Rights Committee went on to say that the UN’s arbitrary listing is not only unjust but is also contrary to the standards set in Security Council Resolution 1539 (April 2004) which requires the monitoring and reporting mechanism “to provide timely, objective, accurate and reliable information on the recruitment and use of children.”
“In fact, we notice that in some reports of the UN Secretary General after 2007, the findings of the Country Task Force for Monitoring and Reporting (CTFMR) is given less credence with respect to the biased reports of GPH agencies, despite the fact that reports of the CTFMR have generally undergone data verification and field validation,” he said.
Agacoili also pointed out how the UN Secretary General mentions the practice of the GPH forces of torturing innocent children into admitting membership in the NPA, and of children being detained by security forces for alleged association with armed groups. Children, according to reports, have been ill-treated, tortured, forcefully interrogated without counsel, and deprived of food and education at the hands of the AFP.
Despite this, however, Agcaoili said that the reports of the Secretary General to the Security Council on the alleged recruitment and use of children by the NPA have nevertheless relied heavily on allegations by GPH agencies.
“And despite the numerous violations of the rights of children by the GPH military and security forces, it is the NPA that is persistently included in Annex II of the Secretary General’s report. It seems that the UN is not a forum for national liberation movements to get a fair and objective hearing of its views regarding the situation of armed conflict in the Philippines between the GPH and the forces allied with the NDFP,” he said.
Agcaoili said that as a consequence of the arbitrary listing of the NPA by the UN, the GPH has been deliberately targeting children in its military operations against communities suspected of supporting or under the control or influence of the revolutionary movement.
“Since 2002, there has been a noticeable increase in the number of children victims in the cruel and brutal war of suppression carried out by the armed forces of the GPH against communities. Children have become victims of aerial and artillery bombardments, rifle strafing of houses, illegal arrest, detention and torture, rape and sexual assault, abduction, occupation of schools and medical centers, forced displacement, and denial of humanitarian access to entire communities. It seems that the GPH has abused the UN processes and mechanisms as means for further suppression of the revolutionary movement,” he said.
Agcaoil said that NDFP has not received a fair hearing from UN agencies concerned with the issue of children and armed conflict, but all the same they always remain open to dialogue.