Palace denounces NPA recruitment of child warriors
MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Monday slammed the recruitment of child warriors by the New People’s Army (NPA) even as President Rodrigo Duterte expressed willingness to revive peace talks with the communist rebels.
In his International Human Rights Day message, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea cited the “serious threat” to government efforts “all forms of end abuse, cruelty, exploitation” of children.
“In various parts of the country, our children and youth are exploited by groups that advance terrorism,” Medialdea said.
“Children and youth, mostly from indigenous communities and as young as 11 years old, are trafficked by local armed communists, taken into the hinterlands, and forced into becoming warriors,” he added.
He lamented that, while some of them have been rescued by government forces, some were not as fortunate as ending up as casualties in armed encounters where “they were ordered to participate by their abusers.”
Medialdea also hailed the closure of 55 salugpungan (unity) schools in Mindanao, which he said were found to be training grounds for the raising of child warriors.”
He vowed that the Duterte administration would continue to pursue a “much better future for the Filipino children and youth,” a progressive program under which they could “thrive and develop their full human potentials.”
The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has launched an investigation into the recruitment issue. It also deplored the alleged use by the NPA of a minor who was killed in an encounter with government forces last week.
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