CAMP EVANGELISTA, Cagayan de Oro City – In the pursuit of finally ending the recruitment of minors of the Communist Terrorist Groups (CTGs), 4th Infantry “Diamond” Division, Philippine Army welcomes the decision of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to probe the NPAs recruitment of minors.
Jacqueline de Guia, CHR Spokesperson said in an interview with CNN Philippines, “Under the International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, even non-state armed groups must respect the prohibition to recruit and use children in armed conflict and hostilities.” “[The boy] was still in his development years and should be focusing on honing his potentials so he can pursue his goals and dreams but his life was snuffed out and can no longer be taken back,” she added
It can be recalled that a 16-year old NPA member named Litboy Binongcasan was killed in an encounter with the troops of the 23rd Infantry “Masigasig” Battalion at the hinterlands of Brgy. Manila de Bugabos, Butuan City. He was recruited when he was just 14-years old.
Further, based on 4ID records, a total of 63 NPA minor combatants operating in Northern Mindanao and Caraga have either surrendered or killed since January 2019. Their age range are from 12 to 17 years old. Also, the data from 2016-2019 revealed that the CTGs are recruiting minors as young as 12 years old and the average age of recruit in Northern Mindanao and CARAGA Regions is 17 years old.
Alyas Christine, 17, an NPA medic who surrendered to 23 Infantry “Masigasig” Battalion last October 2019 said, “Dakong pagbasol nako nga misulod ko sa kalihukan. Wala ko tuguti nga bisitahon akong pamilya ug gihulga pa sila nga patyon ugaling mosumbong ko sa otoridad.” (I really regret joining the NPA. They didn’t allow me to visit my family and they threatened to kill them if we tell the authorities.)
MGen Franco Nemesio Gacal, the Commander of the 4th ID said, “We welcome the decision of the CHR to probe the NPA’s recruitment of minors. Their continues recruitment is clear violation of the Children’s Right and the International Humanitarian Law.” “The youth is the hope of our nation and the CTG is destroying our future” Gacal ended.