Military condemns NPA recruitment of minors
MANILA, Philippines—The government military on Thursday condemned the communist New People’s Army for recruiting minors, following the surrender of a wounded, 17-year-old guerrilla in Northern Mindanao.
Maj. Gen. Victor A. Felix, commander of the 4th Infantry Division in Cagayan de Oro City, issued a statement saying the NPA was capitalizing on the innocence of minors to further its cause instead of letting them go to school and live normal lives.
“We condemn the strategy of the NPA of using and persuading minors to bear arms and fight against the government,” Felix said.
Felix issued the statement after a 17-year-old member of Guerilla Front 20 of the NPA’s Southern Mindanao Regional Committee surrendered to the military at the 75th Infantry “Marauder” Battalion camp in Barangay Maharlika, Bislig City, on Tuesday.
The boy had a gunshot wound in his left thigh, which prompted his evacuation to Camp Evangelista Station Hospital. Doctors and nurses at the hospital promptly attended to the boy, the 4th ID statement said.
The boy was wounded in combat operations carried out by the 4th and 10th IDs at the boundaries of Compostela Valley and Agusan del Sur.
His family was among residents evacuated from a barangay where government troops and NPA guerrillas clashed on Monday, the 4th ID said.
“These evacuees were checked and were given relief goods by the Brigade, which had been the deciding point of his mother who convinced him to surrender,” the statement said.
“This minor should have been sent to school to study, graduate and be employed in the future,” Felix said.
Felix called on the government to pay more attention to educating children to thwart the NPA strategy of using child soldiers.
Felix said the NPA’s recruitment of minors as combatants was a violation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.
“The 4ID encourages the NPA armed group to surrender,” Felix said. “They are all welcome. We will help them join the mainstream and live a normal life because we always want to win peace without bloodshed.”
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