Army hits NPA recruitment of minors in Surigao Sur

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SURIGAO CITY — The Army’s 36th Infantry Battalion (36IB) said it has validated yet again the continued recruitment of minors by communist rebels, in violation of Philippine laws.

In a statement released Thursday, 36IB said it managed to confirm the recruitment of a minor following an encounter in Carmen, Surigao del Sur, on May 19 that killed four New People’s Army (NPA) combatants.

Of the casualties, the 36IB said, was 18-year old Dylan Ghem Padilla Jimenez, whose mother told military authorities that her son fled their home in Carrascal, Surigao del Sur, after he was recruited by the rebels when he was 17.

1Lt. Jonald Romorosa, 36IB civil-military operations officer, said the troops found Jimenez wounded and rushed him to the hospital but was declared dead on arrival by the attending physician.

By recruiting Jimenez when was still a minor, the 36IB said the NPA was liable for violating Republic Act 9851, or “an act defining and penalizing crimes against international humanitarian law, genocide and other crimes against humanity, organizing jurisdiction, designating special courts, and for related purposes…”

The law, the Army said, “prohibits the recruitment and participation of children in arm conflict. In which the state values the dignity of every human person and guarantees full respect for human rights, including the rights of indigenous cultural communities and other vulnerable groups, such as women and children.”

Further, the 36IB said the NPA’s “recruitment of minors is a violation of the “Special Protection of Children in Situations of Armed Conflict Act” or Republic Act 11188.”

“Under the law, children are declared as ‘Zones of Peace’ which must extend beyond territorial or geographical boundaries. The law recognized that children are entitle to dignity and respect as human beings in need of protection from degradation and to prevent the recruitment, re-recruitment, use, displacement of, or grave child rights violations against children involved in armed conflict,” it added.

Lt. Col. Xerxes Trinidad, 36IB commander, said the recruitment of Jimenez was proof of the rebels’ continuing use of child soldiers “to participate in an armed conflict in pursuit of their disillusioned cause.”

“The CNTs (Communist Party of the Philippines –New People’s Army terrorists) leadership must be held accountable and liable for this act of crimes against minors. We will facilitate the filing of appropriate charges to this action of the CNTs,” Trinidad said.

Trinidad added: “We call on the peace-loving people of Surigao del Sur to condemn this act of crimes of the CNTs. Let us protect our children at all cost. To the remaining CNT, stop recruiting and exploiting minor. Surrender now and return to the fold of the law and avail the government’s Enhance and Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP).”

The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. -PNA

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