BACOLOD CITY – A 15-year-old boy, who recently became a child warrior of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA), surrendered to the military and the police in central Negros on Oct. 4 .
According to reports of the Philippine Army released on Wednesday, the teen is among the combatants who clashed with troops of the 94th Infantry Battalion (94IB) in Sitio Cunalom, Barangay Carabalan in Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental on Oct. 1.
Capt. Kim Apitong, officer-in-charge of the 3rd Infantry Division (3ID) Public Affairs Office, told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) that alias “RR” was recruited about two months ago by communist terrorists.
“They frequently visited the child and convinced him to join them, without his parents knowing it. They used deceptive propaganda to recruit him,” he said.
The minor then became a member of the NPA’s Squad 1, Sentro de Grabidad Platoon, Central Negros 2.
Three days after the encounter, the boy, accompanied by his mother, surrendered to the joint personnel of 94IB and Himamaylan City Police Station.
In its report, the 94IB said his claim of being an NPA member was backed by a former rebel, who positively identified him as one of the estimated 10 minors recruited by one alias “Carding”.
“RR” has been endorsed by the government forces to the City Social Welfare Department (CSWD), which classified him as a child-at-risk.
He is then temporarily placed under the care and protection of the 94IB troops upon the consent of his mother, the report added.
In a statement, Maj. Gen. Benedict Arevalo, commander of the 3ID, assailed the CPP-NPA in Negros Island for continuing to exploit minors by recruiting them as child warriors, which is a blatant violation of International Humanitarian Law (IHL), which is a set of rules that seek to limit the effects of armed conflict and protects people who are not or are no longer participating in hostilities and restricts the means and methods of warfare.
“Don’t allow these CPP-NPA terrorists to enter your communities. Be vigilant and report any suspicious movement in your area for us to spoil their recruitment activities. Let us save our children by putting communist terrorism to an end,” he said.
Lt. Col. Angelo de Guzman, commanding officer of the 94IB, said he is grateful to the local Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict of Himamaylan City for its commitment of support to the former child warrior and their unit’s pursuit of peace and progress in Negros.
“Recruitment of minors as combatants is a clear violation of the IHL. For decades, they have ruined the lives and future of many children with their deceptions. This devious tactic should be stopped,” he added.
During the two clashes in Sitio Cunalom last Friday, the 94IB troops seized an M16 rifle with a long magazine and ammunition as well as an M14 rifle, a backpack, a solar panel, a power bank, and subversive documents with high intelligence value.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)