Military’s human rights office says in report 544 children recruited by NPA

MANILA, Philippines—The military’s human rights office made public a report on Thursday (Nov. 26) accusing New People’s Army (NPA), armed wing of Communist Party of the Philippines, of employing at least 544 minors since 2010.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Human Rights Office (AFPHRO) said there could be more minors being used by guerrillas.

Data were gathered by the AFPHRO from military units in the field that submitted “factual and verifiable basis for the report,” said AFP public affairs chief Capt. Jonathan Zata on Thursday.

“The figures which had been recorded as of date are expected to rise, as AFP units continue their inquiry and tender reports on the activities of non-state armed groups,” he said.

A report has been submitted to the Commission on Human Rights for appropriate action, Zata said.

The military has repeatedly accused NPA of recruiting children and training them as fighters. Some of the children, the military said, had been recruited in schools and organizations.

Col. Jose Alejandro Nacnac, AFPHRO chief, said guerrilla “manipulation of minors has shown a nationwide pattern of organized, continuing and systematic scheme of misuse and abuse of children.”