Reds deny using kids for combat, slam AFP for false claims
MANILA, Philippines—The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) on Friday (Nov. 27) strongly denied it was recruiting children as combatants for its armed wing, New People’s Army (NPA), as the military claimed in a report.
“The claims of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) of more than 500 children recruited as NPA combatants are completely false,” said CPP information officer Marco Valbuena.
He said the AFP report was “as false as the AFP’s claims of thousands of NPA” guerrillas who surrendered. Valbuena said the number of those who surrendered, according to the AFP, exceeded the military’s own estimate of active guerrillas.
He said NPA prohibits the recruitment of combatants below 18 years old.
On Thursday (Nov. 26), the AFP’s human rights office said it submitted a report to the Commission on Human Rights to take action on its report citing evidence of NPA recruitment of children and involving them in armed conflict.
The AFP said that based on its data, a total of 544 minors were recruited by the NPA since 2010.
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.
Valbuena accused the AFP of violating children’s rights “in the course of its dirty counterinsurgency war.”
“It has become a common occurrence that children are forced to line up with their parents to be listed as ‘NPA surrenderees’,” he said.
These children, he said, are also kept as captives and used in the military’s propaganda drive to portray them as “child warriors” or victims of “sex slavery.”
Valbuena dared the AFP to submit its latest report on child combatants to the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC), a barely functioning body created for peace talks between the government and guerrillas.
The JMC receives complaints of violations of a previous agreement in the peace negotiations, Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Law, which is also not being enforced.
International bodies, like the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, can investigate the military claims independently, Valbuena said.
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