Bancasi, Butuan City – The 402nd Infantry (Stingers) Brigade in Caraga lauded the bold step of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) in probing the continuing use of Child Warriors by the CPP-NPA Terrorist (CNT).

In an article published in the CNN Philippines on Sunday, December 8, 2019, the CHR denounced the NPA’s supposed use of a 16-year-old boy as a soldier, saying the use of minors in combat is a war crime. Likewise, CHR Spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said, “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.”

In relation to this, Brigadier General Maurito L Licudine, 402nd Brigade Commander located in Butuan City in his statement commended the CHR. “We welcome the latest pronouncement of CHR condemning the NPA’s use of child warriors and its action to investigate the recruitment of children by the CNTs. They can interview all the Former Rebels and know their story. We are very confident that the truth will come out and the CHR can now listen first-hand about the deceptive tactics and the ploys of the CTGs in luring to fight the government.”

It can be recalled that a 16 year old minor, Litboy Binongcasan, was killed during an encounter between the troops of 23IB under the 402nd Brigade and CNTs belonging to Sentro de Gravidad (SDG) Caocao, Guerilla Front 4A of the North Central Mindanao Regional Committee (NCMRC) under alias Weds/Patrick on November 30, 2019 at Sitio Salvacion, Brgy Manila de Bugabos, Butuan City.

The unfortunate demise of said minor a lot of denunciation from different sectors of the society and social media netizens condemning the use of children as child warriors and pushing them as combatant at their young age to be involved in an armed conflict.

According to Brigadier General Maurito L Licudine, for this year alone, they have recorded a total of ten (10) minor CNT members (1 killed, 9 surrendered). It showed the CNTs continues violation of the rights of children guaranteed under the IHL and under the fundamental laws of our land.

Without the indoctrination and agitation of the CTGs, these children could be in school or with their families enjoying the Christmas season and not carrying firearms and experiencing a violent life”. BGen Licudine added.