Palace hits use of child soldiers by rebel group
MANILA, Philippines—Malacañang on Saturday described as “repulsive” the use of child soldiers by the hardline Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), a breakaway Moro rebel group that is now the target of bombing raids by government troops in Maguindanao.
“Beyond the fact that it violates so many laws—not just ours but international laws—we condemn the practice of using child soldiers in these hostilities,” said deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte in a radio interview.
She said the use of child soldiers to perpetuate violence “has no place” in a civilized society.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has a strict policy against this, she said.
“In relation to the situation that is happening with the BIFF, there’s a very disturbing report of … (bodies of) three child soldiers that were recovered,” Valte said.
“That news that they (BIFF forces) used three child soldiers, child warriors, is repulsive,” she said.
The three child soldiers were among 53 people killed in a week of fighting with government forces.
Col. Dickson Hermoso, spokesperson for the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, reported that of the 53 bodies of slain BIFF fighters recovered on Friday, three were those of minors.
Hermoso said the children, aged 15 to 16, were wearing fatigue uniforms “with BIFF markings and possessed firearms.”
Valte said the security forces of the government are against the deployment of child soldiers or child warriors.
She said the AFP had not tolerated this practice, even as she appealed to parents against allowing their children to be recruited for any armed struggle.
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