Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Army troopers rescue 5 ‘child warriors’ in Iloilo

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 21, 2020): Army troopers rescue 5 ‘child warriors’ in Iloilo (By Gail Momblan)

YOUNG RECRUITS. Photo shows the temporary training ground of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA) in Sitio Anoy, Cabalaunan village, Miagao, Iloilo. Five "child warriors" were among the 11 captured individuals by government troops last Saturday, Col. Marion Sison, commander of Philippine Army's 301st Infantry Brigade, said on Monday (April 20, 2020). (Photo courtesy of Philippine Army 61st Infantry Battalion)

Five "child warriors" of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) were among the 11 captured individuals in an encounter between the Philippine Army and the rebels in Miagao, lloilo on Saturday, an Army commander has confirmed.

The Philippine Army’s 61st Infantry Battalion (61IB) under the 301st Infantry Brigade (301st IBde) said government troops have responded to persistent reports of locals that the CPP-NPA is conducting training of minor recruits at Sitio Anoy, Cabalaunan village, Miagao.

The blocking force of the Army has captured 11 rebels while one was killed in the 35-minute gun battle.

“For the captured, we have five minors. One of them is 14 years old; two are 15 years old; one is 16 years old, and the other one is 17 years old,” Col. Marion Sison, commander of the 301st IBde, told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) in a phone interview on Monday.

Sison confirmed that the five can be considered as "child warriors" as some of them are “newly recruited and some are armed already,” he said.

The Army commander said the five minors are all male and residents of Antique province.

The five, along with the six others, are currently under the custody of the Miagao Municipal Police Station and are undergoing inquest proceeding.

Charges will be filed against those of legal age while the minors will be turned over to the Department of Social Welfare and Development Field Office 6 (Western Visayas) for proper custody, he said.

Sison also slammed the claims of the enemy that those captured are not their members. “That is not new to us. They will always disclaim that these (captured) are not their members but we have rebel returnees here that confirmed that the captured are indeed their former comrades,” he said.

As recruitment of minors is confirmed in the southern area of Panay, Sison is calling on the parents and guardians to always guide the teenagers.

He said using minors to wage an armed struggle is “very alarming” and is a serious offense committed by the rebels.

“It is a clear violation of Rule 136 of the International Humanitarian Law which prohibits the recruitment of minors by any armed groups involved in hostilities,” he said.

The casualty on the armed encounter, meanwhile, was of legal age, a regular member of the CPP-NPA, and was already turned over to his family.

“I commend the troops of the 61st Infantry (Hunter) Battalion for acting swiftly in eliminating the threat posed by the CPP-NPA terrorists in Barangay Cabalaunan, Miagao, Iloilo, that despite being exhausted in our deployments in different quarantine control points and in performing other necessary tasks to help contain the local transmission of Covid-19 in the island of Panay, they were still able to perform their task of protecting our people from terrorism,” Maj. Gen. Eric Vinoya, commander of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division, said.

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.


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