PHL Army to human rights group: NPA's use of child warriors is not a fabricated story

October 12, 2011 9:57 pm 

MANILA, Oct. 12 — The Philippine Army (PA) denied on Wednesday allegations by Human Rights Watch Deputy Director for Asia Elaine Pearson that the military is fabricating stories on child warriors, and that soldiers are parading these children in the media.

"Upon verification, there is no single documented incident that child soldiers of the New People’s Army (NPA) were presented to the media by our unit commanders," the PA said in a statement.

The PA added that it recorded a total of 10 rescued child warriors in Davao region, and another three aged 10 to 12 in Surigao del Sur. In Monkayo, Compostela Valley province, a 14-year-old child warrior was also rescued by the Army’s 25th Infantry Battalion.

Article 38 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child provides that “State Parties shall take all feasible measures to ensure that persons who have not attained the age of fifteen years do not take a direct part in hostilities.”

The PA's statement said the child warriors mentioned above, less than the age of 15, were captured in armed clashes, a strong evidence that indeed the NPA rebels employ children in their armed struggle.

These children engage in activities that promote violence such as detonating a landmine to kill government soldiers, the military said.

"These are not fabricated lies and our unit commanders can attest to this. The AFP, the Philippine Army in particular, does not fabricate evidence to pin down the CPP-NPA-NDF on the use of child warriors. We validated our data by consulting the parents of these children, by looking through their records, such as their birth certificates and school records, before we declare them as child warrior," PA officials said.

Under Philippine laws, as embodied in Section 25 (d) of Republic Act No. 7610 (Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act), “any child who has been arrested for reasons related to armed conflict, either as combatant, courier, guide or spy, shall be, within 24 hours, released to the custody of the Department of Social Welfare and Development(DSWD) or any responsible member of the community as determined by the court.” (PNA) DCT/scs/JCA

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