NPA not recruiting minors as fighters ‘a blatant lie’ — Año
The claim of former Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo that communist rebels are not recruiting minors as fighters, is a “blatant lie,” Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said Tuesday.
Ocampo earlier claimed in a television interview that as a rule, the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) is against the recruitment of minors “so definitely, that could not be part of the program of the NPA.”
But Año refuted this claim, saying the recruitment of minors as fighters by the NPA has been ongoing for decades.
“Satur Ocampo’s denial of the occurrence of illegal recruitment of minors by the CPP/NPA/NDF is a blatant lie. In fact it has been going on for decades,” he said in a statement.
Año said the Philippine National Police (PNP) has filed this year five cases against the CPP-NPA-NDF for violating laws on child abuse and trafficking in persons. He said five similar cases have also been filed in court in 2017, while three cases were filed in 2016.
According to Año, the CPP-NPA-NDF has intensified the recruitment of minors since it is “easier to poison their young minds” and because they need to fill up their ranks which have been slashed due to the growing number of rebel surrenderees.
“The CPP/NPA/NDF are poisoning the minds of our children to take up arms against the government. They teach the innocent how to use a gun, how to fight in armed combat, how to gain people’s sympathy, to sing a different version of the national anthem and to join rallies calling for the overthrow of government,” he said.
He also said evidences against Ocampo’s claim are “incontrovertible,” as he said some were even reported in the media.
To support his claim, Año said a 15-year-old NPA child combatant was killed in a clash between government troops and communist rebels in Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur in April this year, two boys and a girl were also killed in an encounter with the military and the NPA in Compostella Valley in July 2017.
Año said an 11-year-old NPA child fighter also surrendered to the Philippine Army in Asuncion town, Davao del Norte in 2015.
Two child warriors, along with four women, also surrendered to government authorities in Zamboanga del Sur, he said.
Año also defended the arrest of Ocampo, ACT Teachers Party-list Rep. France Castro and 16 others for allegedly holding minors from the Salugpungan Learning Center without the consent of their parents.
Año said affidavits of former students and volunteer teachers of the school claimed that the learning center has been training students as young as those in the kindergarten, in the use of firearms.
They added that minors were being brought into NPA camps and were prohibited from communicating with their parents.
Incidents of sexual abuse have also been reported in these camps, Año said. /muf
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