“The CPP-NPA (Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army) is destroying the future of our children and the hope of our nation. Instead of inspiring them to be upright, peaceful and law-abiding citizens, the insurgents are molding them into child warriors with the sole purpose of fighting the government,” Galvez said.
Krizjohn Rosales/File
OPAPP to CPP-NPA: Stop recruiting child rebels
Jose Rodel Clapano (The Philippine Star) - February 28, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Carlito Galvez Jr. denounced anew yesterday the alleged inhumane tactic of communist rebels of recruiting children to become armed guerrillas.

“The CPP-NPA (Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army) is destroying the future of our children and the hope of our nation. Instead of inspiring them to be upright, peaceful and law-abiding citizens, the insurgents are molding them into child warriors with the sole purpose of fighting the government,” Galvez said.

Galvez was reacting to news reports of a 14-year-old member of the CPP-NPA who was rescued on Tuesday by government troops in Misamis Occidental.

Based on accounts of the Army’s 102nd Infantry Brigade, the boy identified only as “Bentong” joined the guerrilla front Sendong of the Western Mindanao Regional Party when he was only 13 years old.

The boy was abandoned by his comrades in the jungle and appeared to be lost when he was rescued by soldiers.

He is now undergoing stress debriefing from a team composed of military, police and social welfare personnel.

“By using these child-warriors to fight in their war with the government, the Reds have shown they have no dignity nor compassion to speak of. Imagine, these children should be holding pens and books, but instead are being trained to shoot rifles and kill people,” Galvez said.

“All they (insurgents) care about is to achieve their goal at all costs, even at the expense of the lives of innocent children,” Galvez said. “And for an organization which heavily espouses the protection of human rights, it is in fact the number one violator of these rights.”

Galvez, a former AFP chief, pointed out that the CPP-NPA have managed to survive due to their aggressive recruitment of young members, especially those coming from marginalized sectors and learning institutions nationwide.

Maj. Gen. Franco Nemesio Gacal, commander of the 4th Infantry Division (4ID), revealed in November last year that the presence of these child guerrillas in Northern Mindanao and the Caraga region has become “very alarming.”

Gacal said the military learned of the CPP-NPA’s active recruitment in these areas after two members of the communist group identified only as “Kent” and “Bradex,” aged 19 and 23 respectively, surrendered to authorities.

Kent was wounded during an armed encounter and was subsequently rescued by government troops. Bradex recalled that he was recruited by the communist organization when he was only 12 and became a full-time combatant at age 16.

Kent and Bradex’s revelations were validated by alias “Karla,” a 17-year-old CPP-NPA medic who surrendered in March last year to the 23rd Infantry Battalion in Buenavista, Agusan del Norte. She was only 14 years old when the rebels recruited her.

In Davao City, alias “Alem,” a 3rd year BS Architecture student of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines was among the nine CPP-NPA members who turned themselves in to the Eastern Mindanao Command last April 2019.

During a press briefing, Alem bared that upon joining the rebel group, she became an active organizer of left-leaning organizations such as the League of Filipino Students, Anakbayan and Samahan ng Kabataang Demokratiko sa Asyenda Luisita.

To date, almost 11,000 CPP-NPA members and active supporters have returned to the fold of the law as a result of the whole-of-nation approach wherein local government units are tasked to carry out localized peace engagements with rebels in their respective communities.

CARLITO GALVEZ JR.
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