The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said it will continue to investigate reported recruitment of youth soldiers within armed conflict areas in the country.
The CHR made the statement in line with the observance of “International Day Against the Use of Child Soldiers” last Friday
CHR spokesperson Jacqueline Ann de Guia said the Commission strongly condemns the involvement of children in armed conflict, amid reports that the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) allegedly brainwash and sacrifice child warriors, taken from various indigenous communities, to further their armed and violent revolution.
“In the Philippines, CHR has monitored and is continuously investigating cases of children in situations of armed conflict,” de Guia said in a statement.
“We have noted cases allegedly perpetrated by the New People’s Army where children are being harmed, killed, or seriously injured in armed battles, among others,” she added.
De Guia cited that some children are forced and abducted to become combatants while others are deceived or made to believe that joining an armed group is a chance for a better life.
“In the field, children in armed conflicts also fulfill different roles – on the front lines, acting as spies, lookouts, messengers, couriers, or running errands,” she said.
To recall, the International Humanitarian Law prohibits the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict and hostilities.
“We remind all groups – state and non-state alike – that the use of children as soldiers is a war crime. This reprehensible act robs the young of their childhood and the chance to have a better life,” de Guia said.
De Guia, meanwhile, urged the government to step up its efforts to enforce pertinent laws to heighten the protection of children against illegal recruitment.
There are existing laws to protect children, such as Republic Act (RA) 7610 or the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act; RA 9851 or the Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide, and Other Crimes Against Humanity; and RA 11188 or the Special Protection of Children in Situations of Armed Conflict Act.
“CHR will continue to rally for this cause and will continue to investigate cases of child soldiers – may these allegations come from the government or rebel groups – in line with our duty as an independent national human rights institution,” she said. SOVEREIGNPH