Military eyes charges vs. NPA for children’s rights violations

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DAVAO CITY — The Philippine Army and local police authorities are eyeing the filing of a case against leaders of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) for violation of children’s rights.

“The NPAs are still recruiting minors to become child soldiers despite the universally accepted moral obligation under the International Humanitarian Law (IHL) that children must be protected,” commander of the 1003rd Infantry Brigade (1003IB), Col. Nolasco Mempin, said on Tuesday.

Mempin said that despite the IHL and other laws on the protection of the rights of children, the NPA continues to put them in the way of armed conflict, depriving them of their rights.

He said they are collaborating with the local police for the possible filing of charges against the NPA.

This developed after a 14-year-old NPA member surrendered to soldiers of the 56th Infantry Battalion (56IB) in Talaingod, Davao del Norte on Sunday afternoon.

Capt. Erick Wynmer Calulot, 1003IB civil-military operations officer, said Michelle Warag Anlas, alias Mich, a resident of Barangay Dagohoy in Talaingod, surrendered to government troops.

Calulot said Warag served as a medic for the Andoy platoon of the Sub-Regional Guerilla Unit, Sub-Regional Committee 5, Southern Mindanao Regional Committee of the NPA.

She surrendered to Lt. Col. Norman Valdez, commanding officer of 56IB in Barangay Sto. Niño, Talaingod, after seeing the sincerity of the Community Support Program Team in helping resolve the social and developmental issues in their community.

During the initial interview conducted by soldiers, Warag disclosed that she was recruited sometime in October last year in exchange for the promise that social reform through armed revolution is her family’s way out of poverty.

She said other minors like her are still with the NPA.

Warag was placed in a temporary shelter under the protective custody of the Talaingod Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office where she will undergo psychological and other evaluations. -PNA

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