By FIDEL V. AGCAOILI
Chairperson, NDFP Human Rights Monitoring Committee
In reaction to a news item that said Vice President (VP) Jejomar “Jojo” Binay had claimed that the New People’s Army (NPA) is recruiting children, Mr. Fidel V. Agcaoili, Chairperson of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines-Human Rights Monitoring Committee (NDFP-MC), said today that VP Jojo Binay is misinformed.
“Obviously whoever wrote the speech of VP Binay did not read the 23 April 2011 report of United Nations (UN) Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Children and Armed Conflict”, Agcaoili stated.
“In paragraphs 175 and 176 of the Secretary General’s report, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Units (CAFGUs) were identified in documented cases of recruiting and using children as combatants and guides, as well as in torturing and illegally detaining children to extract information on their relatives suspected to be members of the NPA,” Agcaoili added.
The UN report also implicated the AFP and CAFGUs in the killing and maiming of children and, in violation of international humanitarian law and the GPH’s own laws, in occupying schools, health centers and public buildings “as barracks and command centers, including for storing weapons and ammunition,” and “approaching children, questioning them and allowing them to handle weapons”.
On the other hand, the UN report only said that its task force on monitoring “continues to receive credible reports of children associated with the New People’s Army”, but without citing any concrete case or incident, all the while unfairly applying on the NPA the so-called Paris Principles, an anti-national liberation movement document formulated by non-governmental organizations.
“From the beginning and especially under Oplan Bantay Laya I and II, the armed forces of the Government of the Philippines (GPH), including the police and paramilitary units, have deliberately been targeting children in their operations in the countryside – fabricating cases of so-called child soldiers as in the cases of Levi Mabanan and Edfu de la Cruz, sexually abusing young women as in the case of two sisters in Pinukpuk, Kalinga, and killing children as in the cases of the Golloso children and Grecil Buya,” Agcaoili noted.
As early as 1999, the revolutionary movement has already raised to 18 the age for recruitment in the New People’s Army as evidenced by the respective memorandum issued by the Executive Committee of the Central Committee (EC-CC) of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the Military Commission of the CC of the CPP.
“We suggest that VP Binay require his speech writers to double check their data and not make false accusations against the NPA,” Agcaoili concluded.