From the Visayan Daily Star (May 31): Army hits NPA use of minors
Minors , who were with New People's Army rebels, were reportedly involved in a recent encounter with Army soldiers in Brgy. Mabini, Escalante City, Negros Occidental, accounts of civilians show, a military official revealed yesterday.
“We strongly condemn these violations of the NPA, especially the use of minors or teenagers in their armed group, which is a blatant violation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law and human rights,” 2Lt. Ma. Revekka Knothess Roperos, 303rd Infantry Brigade spokesperson, said.
The recent encounter claimed the life of another Army soldier and caused injuries to two others.
The group of about 30 armed rebels are also believed to be to responsible for the deaths of two agrarian reform beneficiaries on May 22 in Brgy. General Luna, Sagay City.
Three individuals suspected to be rebels, who were found at the encounter site on May 28 in upland Brgy. General Luna, Escalante City, were released Sunday by the Escalante police, after they tested negative of gunpowder burns.
The fleeing rebels left behind a rifle grenade, ammunition for a M-203 grenade launcher, assorted personal belongings, and food at the encounter site recovered by pursuing Army soldiers, who were trailing bloodstains believed to be those of the rebels.
Roperos said the three individuals have found in the encounter site, and this was a vital consideration for them to be questioned and investigated.
However, since they uphold and abide with the human rights law, these individuals, whom Roperos did not identify, are presumed innocent and must be released immediately, unless a formal case is filed against them, he said.
We adhere to the fundamentals of the bill of rights, and whether they have active participation in the NPA atrocities, they still deserve to be treated with all respect and justice should be served under due process of law, Roperos added.
“In support of the PNP investigation, we assure that we will relentlessly pursue the perpetrators with full force of law,” she also said.