Armed Forces of the Philippines is biggest violator of children's rights
By CPP Information Bureau
The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) today said claims of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) that the New People's Army (NPA) recruits children are "completely unfounded and are only desperate attempts to tarnish the image of the NPA before the public and the human rights community here and abroad."
"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," the CPP reiterated in a statement today.
The statement of the CPP rebuts the claims made yesterday by AFP-Civil Relations Service that the NPA has recruited at least 340 children since 1999, including 209 who have "surrendered," 119 "captured" and 12 "killed in combat."
"Those figures are nothing but concoctions manufactured by the AFP's psywar mills. Most of the children cited in the AFP's reports as supposed "child combatants" were, in fact, victims of the AFP's abusive military operations that blatantly disregard the rights and welfare of civilians, including children, in rural communities suspected by the reactionary government of supporting the revolutionary movement," said the CPP.
The CPP cited the case of nine-year old Grecil Buya, a schoolgirl who was killed by soldiers of the 101st Bde while conducting a military operation in a rural barangay in New Bataan, Compostela Valley in March 31, 2007. In its reports, the AFP labeled Grecil as a "child combatant" of the NPA and even took photos of her dead body with an M-16 rifle placed beside her. Subsequent investigations by the Commission on Human Rights and other independent groups belied the AFP's reports.
The CPP also cited the case of 17-year old Michelle Adelantar whom the AFP took into custody last February 3 in San Jose de Buan, Western Samar on the accusation of her being an NPA 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," the CPP stated. Michelle continues to be detained by the Department of Social Work and Development, despite demands of relatives to have Michelle released to their care.
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 CPP said that "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 to the media who were even encouraged to take photographs and videos of him."
The CPP reiterated that it maintains a policy prohibiting the recruitment of children below 18 years old as fighters of the NPA. "This policy prohibiting child combatants is being strictly observed by all units of the New People's Army."
"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 Philippine government and the AFP have, however, persistently prevented international observers from engaging with the revolutionary movement on the question of children's rights. It has churned out baseless figures accusing the NPA of violating childrens rights while preventing independent observers from verifying these claims."
"In truth, it is the AFP that is biggest violator of childrens rights in the Philippines. Hundred of thousands of children have been victimized by the AFP's military operations that have invariably targetted civilian communities in the fascist military's desperation to put an end to the people's revolutionary armed resistance," said the CPP.
The CPP cited the report made in 2007 by the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) where it revealed that 215,233 children were victimized in AFP operations including more than 215,060 victimized by forcible evaucations. At least 58 children were killed and another 58 survived attempts on their lives. It further revealed that ten children have disappeared, 40 maimed, 17 subjected to torture, 8 subjected to rape and sexual harassment, 51 victims of illegal search and seizure, 63 victims of coercion, 69 victims of illegal arrest and detention, 40 victims of physical assault and injury and 196 victims of threats and intimidation.
The Unicef report also cited that 106 children were orphaned and witnessed the government military's killing of their parents or other relatives.
In a recent report to the UN General Assembly, the UN Secretary General cited cases where the AFP has been making abusive use of children to carry supplies and serve intelligence purposes. Many of these cases were in Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) areas where children have been illegally detained by the AFP for alleged association with MILF forces. The report cited a case where 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 membership in the MILF.
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