Efforts of the New People’s Army (NPA) to recruit minors into their ranks is a gross violation of the United Nations Children’s Fund’s (UNICEF) Convention on the Rights of Children, a military official said Thursday.
“It is a gross violation of the provisions of UNICEF’s Convention on the Rights of Children, which specifically states that children below the age of 18 must be accorded their basic rights to include the right from exploitation,” Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) public affairs office chief, Col. Noel Detoyato, said in a test message to the Philippine News Agency (PNA) when sought for a comment.
The NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union.
“Recruiting them to become fighters is the height of (Communist Party of the Philippines) CPP-NPA hypocrisy,” Detoyato added.
On Tuesday, a 15-year-old female rebel voluntarily surrendered to military units in Capiz due to the extreme hunger and hardships she experienced in the mountains.
The girl, identified only as “Regina”, is from the Central Front in Tapaz, Capiz, and has been a member of the rebel group for more than two months yet, 61st Infantry Battalion commander Lt. Col. Sisenando Magbalot Jr., said.
He added that “Regina” was recruited by her boyfriend, who is also a member of the group.
She said that at first, she was unaware of her boyfriend being a member of the NPA.
Magbalot said “Regina” served as a cook for NPA members, and that she was taught how to use a firearm but was never engaged in an encounter. (PNA)