CHR slams NPA for alleged rape of minors, asks gov’t to resolve issue
MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has called on the government to resolve allegations that two New People’s Army (NPA) rebels raped minors in Leyte, saying that such actions are despicable even amid an armed conflict struggle.
CHR said in a statement on Thursday that forcing people, especially children, as sex slaves or as fighters for the communist cause are a form of human trafficking, which are criminal offenses and should be stopped.
The accusations surfaced when the 93rd Infantry Battalion responded to complaints from residents of Barangay Rizal, Kananga, Leyte, about armed men surrounding the area, forcing some minors to join them. After the military officers conducted the rescue, two girls claimed that they were raped by the rebels.
“[CHR] condemns in the strongest terms the alleged cases of sexual abuse committed against minor girls by reported members of the [NPA] in Kananga, Leyte […] We strongly denounce the use of sexual violence as a widespread and systematic tactic of war,” CHR Spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said.
“The Commission underscores that in armed situations characterized by violence, brutality, and coercion, perpetrators can operate with even greater impunity,” she added.
CHR also condemned claims that NPA recruiting child warriors among their ranks, noting that the female minors may be used by the communist forces to entice fighters into joining them.
The commission said that it will also conduct an independent investigation of the incident.
“Sexual slavery and recruitment of child soldiers, among others, are forms of human trafficking. These horrendous acts towards vulnerable individuals allegedly being practiced by rebel forces are not just employed to spread fear and gain victims, but to use them as incentives to recruit new fighters,” De Guia noted.
“Civilians, most especially the vulnerable population, including women and children, are equally protected under international humanitarian law. Respect for the human rights and dignity even in times of armed conflict is a mutual obligation of both State and non-State parties,” it added.
This is not the first time that CHR — often an agency tagged as supporters of communist groups — spoke out against NPA.
During the height of the pandemic when the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) enforced their own ceasefires, CHR called on the communist rebels to respect their own declaration as skirmishes between the two sides broke out.
“We call on the government to provide redress for the victims including multi-sectoral assistance for health, psycho-social support, and reintegration in their communities. They require rehabilitation and special attention after their demobilization from the camp,” De Guia stressed.
“Most importantly, we urge the authorities to conduct swift investigation on the case to further find out the truth behind these accounts and ensure that offenders will immediately be held to account. The Commission for its part will launch an independent probe to shed light on the issue,” she added.
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