Monday, December 9, 2019

WESTMINCOM: Explosives, war materiel seized by troops in ZDN

Posted to the Western Mindanao Command (WESTMINCOM) Website (Dec 9, 2019): Explosives, war materiel seized by troops in ZDN (By PIO Western Mindanao Command)

Operating troops from the Bravo Company of the 97th Infantry Battalion recovered explosives and war materiel after a clash in Zamboanga del Norte.

While conducting combat operations, troops encountered undetermined number of Communist Terrorist Group members in Sitio Napolan, Barangay Tinuyop, Leon B. Postigo at 3:35 pm yesterday, December 8, 2019.

Firefight ensued that lasted for about 20 minutes after which enemies withdrew.

While scouring the encounter site, operating troops recovered 12 backpacks, 3 Improvised Explosive Devices, 2 hand grenades, 2 rifle grenades, and 4 Caliber 50 ammunitions.

The encounter also resulted in the death of one soldier while casualties on the enemy side is yet to be determined.

“My salute to our soldier who paid the ultimate sacrifice putting other people and the country ahead of himself,” said Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, Commander of the Western Mindanao Command.

“In honor of all our fallen heroes, we will continue to conduct military operations and maximize intelligence monitoring with the assistance of the police, the local government, and the civilians in the province of Zamboanga del Norte to disallow these communist terrorists to thrive in the communities,” added Lt. Gen. Sobejana.

“We will exhaust all means through our JTF ZamPeLan to stop them from continually doing their terroristic activities,” Lt. Gen. Sobejana concluded.

Maguindanao PDDRMC aids 3K displaced residents

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 9, 2019): Maguindanao PDDRMC aids 3K displaced residents (By Edwin Fernandez and Noel Punzalan)

RELIEF DISTRIBUTION. Workers from the provincial disaster management office of Maguindanao hand out relief packs to over 3,000 displaced families in at least seven conflict-affected villages of Shariff Aguak town on Sunday (Dec. 8, 2019). The families fled their homes after the military launched an all-out offensive against the Islamic State-linked Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in the peripheries of Shariff Aguak, Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Mamasapano, and Shariff Saydona Mustapha municipalities on Nov. 24, 2019. (Photo courtesy of Maguindanao PDDRMO)

CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao -- Thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) have received relief assistance from the provincial government of Maguindanao on Sunday, local and disaster officials said Monday.

Maguindanao Governor Bai Mariam Sangki-Mangudadatu said the relief operations will continue to serve other IDPs in other evacuation sites, including those who are still staying at their relatives’ homes.

Maguindanao's disaster management team was in Barangay Timbangan, Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao on Sunday to distribute food packs to more than 3,000 displaced families from Shariff Aguak, according to disaster management official Tim Ambolodto.

Ambolodto, the operations officer of Maguindanao provincial disaster risk reduction and management council, said the recipients were from Barangays Lepok, Tapikan, Bagong, Bialong, Malingao, Tina, and Kuloy, all in Shariff Aguak town.

Also given relief items were some 200 families from Barangays Dasawao and Pamalian of adjacent Shariff Saydona Mustapha town. The food packs include rice, canned goods, noodles, coffee, sugar, and other basic commodities.

“The displaced families fled their homes since the start of the all-out military operation against the
Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters last Nov. 26 on the so-called ‘SPMS box’,” Ambolodto said.

The SPMS box is a military term referring to the adjoining towns of Shariff Aguak, Pagatin (Datu Saudi Ampatuan), Mamasapano and Shariff Saydona, all in Maguindanao’s second district.

Mangudadatu has directed all village officials to attend to the needs of their affected constituents and ensure that everyone is served with a relief package. Currently, the provincial health office is also attending to the health needs of the evacuees.

BIFF camps seized in Maguindanao

From the Philippine Star (Dec 10, 2019): BIFF camps seized in Maguindanao (By John Unson)

MAGUINDANAO, Philippines — The military recovered almost a dozen camps of the Dawlah Islamiya or Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in this province last week.

Maj. Gen. Diosdado Carreon of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division acknowledged the role of local government and barangay officials in the takeover of the
BIFF camps in Mamasapano, Shariff Saidona, Shariff Aguak and Datu Saudi towns.

“We are thankful to Moro communities for supporting our operations against these terrorists,” Carreon said.

Seven members of the BIFF, three of them relatives of Esmael Abdulmalik, alias Abu Toraife, one of the leaders of the group, were killed in clashes with government troopers.

The military said 34 improvised explosive devices, some of them attached to booby traps and planted along the roads leading to BIFF lairs, were detonated.

Authorities said 10 rifles, an M79 grenade launcher, a rocket launcher with a B-40 anti-tank projectile, a 60 millimeter mortar tube, a shotgun and a 9mm pistol were seized from the BIFF camps.

Soldier dead, another wounded in clash with NPA in Iligan City

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Dec 9, 2019): Soldier dead, another wounded in clash with NPA in Iligan City

ILIGAN CITY—A soldier from the Army’s 49th Infantry Battalion was killed and another was wounded in clash with New People’s Army at the village of Kalilangan here last Saturday, Dec. 7.

In a report given only on Monday, or two days after the clash, Lt. Col. Edgar Allan Villanueva, 49th IB head, said Private Joel Espreso, 22, was shot in the mouth causing his instantaneous death.

Cpl. Crisanto Morales, 33, was wounded in the shoulder and brought to hospital.

The soldiers, both Bicolanos, were part of the 49th IB team reinforcing the 4th Mechanized Infantry Battalion in the area when they ran into a group of rebels, starting a 15-minute gunfight.

Brig. Gen. Facundo Palafox, head of the 2nd Mechanized Infantry Brigade, said since Dec. 1, the military had been sending more soldiers to Kalilangan after confirming reports that rebels were in the area.

On Dec. 3, city officials launched a task force in line with President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to end insurgency by the time he steps down in 2022.

The task force’s first move was to present 20 men that officials claimed were NPA members who had surrendered last March.

Army claims 48 NPAs yield after leader’s arrest

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Dec 9, 2019): Army claims 48 NPAs yield after leader’s arrest
(By Delfin T. Mallari Jr.)

LUCENA CITY – The military on Monday, Dec. 9, claimed at least 48 members of New People’s Army (NPA) had surrendered following the arrest of a top rebel in Southern Tagalog.

In a statement, Capt. Jayrald Ternio, head of the public affairs office of the Army’s 2nd Infantry Division, said the surrender took place last Saturday, Dec. 7.

Lt. Col. Alexander Arbolado, head of the Army’s 4th Infantry Battalion, said “demoralization and fear” drove the rebels to yield after the arrest of Jaime Padilla, NPA spokesperson in the region.

Padilla’s arrest at a hospital in San Juan City last week was an eye opener for rebels because while Padilla enjoyed “high-end medical treatment” his comrades did not.

“They realized the unfair treatment between leaders and ordinary fighters,” said Arbolado.

Amid the military claim, rebels under the Melito Glor Command condemned the alleged treachery in the killing of a top rebel leader and two others in Antipolo City on Dec. 5.

The command, in a statement, said Armando Lazarete and his two companions Jose Villahermosa and Lucio Simburoto were unarmed when they were killed by soldiers.

The military claimed they were slain in a gunfight.

The rebels also said the shooting victims had been wrongly identified. Lazarte’s real name was Ermin Bellen, the rebels said.

Ternio, the Army regional spokesperson, said it was not true that the three slain men were unarmed and sleeping as rebels claimed.

He said the NPA statement was “full of lies”.

Ternio said soldiers were just backups for police who served arrest warrants for the three men. Lazarte, said Ternio, had been wanted for a case of murder and frustrated murder and was covered by an arrest warrant.

Military downplays NPA strength; wary of armed Moro clans’ presence in Cotabato

From MindaNews (Dec 9, 2019): Military downplays NPA strength; wary of armed Moro clans’ presence in Cotabato (By Malu Cadelina-Manar)

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews/ 9 December) –Besides the security threat posed by the New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in Cotabato province, the military is also closely monitoring several alleged Islamic State-inspired armed Moro clans operating in the area, officials said Monday.

Col. Arnold Bernardo, deputy commander of the 901st Infantry Brigade based in Magpet town, claimed
the communist rebels “have been weakened and are losing their clout” among their masa or sympathizers with the recent arrests of their two top leaders.

In September, he said that authorities arrested in Matalam town Commander Alon, NPA Front 53 finance officer, and Commander Karla, a “white area” leader, last month here.

White area or the “legal front” refers to those who are often involved in street protests or indignation rallies to malign the government.
Citing their assessment, Bernardo claimed “the NPA rebels have a declining strength in terms of the number of combatants and their firearms.”

“Hundreds of their mass supporters, including their top leaders, have already surrendered to us, so in terms of strength, they are no longer gaining ground,” Bernardo told the City Peace and Order Council (CPOC) meeting here.

He did not give actual figures on those who surrendered and the NPA rebels still actively operating in the 901st Brigade’s jurisdiction, which includes parts of Bukidnon and Marilog District in Davao City.

Aside from threats coming from the NPA, Col. Rey Alvarado, commander of the Army’s 72nd Infantry Battalion, said they are also closely watching the presence of some armed Moro clans with possible links to the Islamic State.

“We have been monitoring the movement of these Moro clans whom we perceived as armed and dangerous. Some of them have been spotted in our area of responsibility,” Alvarado said.

Alvarado, however, refused to identify these clans to avoid bungling the military’s surveillance activity.

Based on army reports, these clans are involved in kidnapping, extortion and bombings.

Alvarado was also present during the CPOC meeting chaired by Mayor Joseph Evangelista.

Philippine Defense Chief Rejects Truce with NPA Rebels

From BenarNews (Dec 9, 2019): Philippine Defense Chief Rejects Truce with NPA Rebels (By Dennis Jay Santos)

Fighters with the New People’s Army (NPA), the military wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, stand in formation during drills in Talakag, a town in Bukidnon province in the southern Philippines, April 17, 2017. [Froilan Gallardo/BenarNews]

The Philippines’ top defense official said Monday he would not recommend a Christmastime ceasefire with communist rebels despite a directive from President Rodrigo Duterte to explore the possibility of resuming peace talks with them.

The guerrillas would likely exploit a pause in military offensives against them by trying to recruit more members, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said in rejecting a potential truce with the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Philippine communist party.

Lorenzana said there would be no let-up in intensified operations as the military sought to end the NPA’s 50-year-old insurgency, which has left thousands dead.

“No. We will not recommend a ceasefire. Let us just not resort to a ceasefire,”
Lorenzana told reporters. “Usually if there’s a ceasefire, the soldiers go back to their barracks because the operations are stopped. But the rebels deceitfully work their way to villages to increase their power.”

In 2018, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) declared a unilateral ceasefire, directing the NPA to silence its guns over the holidays. But despite that, Lorenzana said, the rebels had carried on with their attacks.

“We are the only ones who follow the ceasefire,” the defense chief said.

Last week, President Duterte directed Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III to talk to CPP founder Jose Maria Sison in a bid to revive the peace talks. This was a turnaround from Duterte’s earlier pronouncement that Manila would no longer negotiate with the guerrillas until his six-year term ended in 2022.

“All of us, even in the military, support the president. But what I want to say to Mr. Sison is that he should also be sincere. The president has always said that peace talks will always have a place in his governance,” Lorenzana said.

Sison, who is in self-imposed exile in the Netherlands, welcomed Duterte’s overtures, but said the talks should be held in a third country.

“I think there needs to be several steps before we could reach a point of having peace negotiations in the Philippines,” Sison said in a statement.

If the Philippine government was sincere in its offer of peace talks, it should free detained communist rebels and revoke orders to arrest members of the communist party’s peace negotiating panel.

In 2017, Duterte called off peace talks with the rebels after the CPP continued launching deadly attacks.

“I think the president is intelligent enough to see there is also a benefit for him and his administration that the peace negotiations be resolved,” Sison said.

Since the talks were suspended, the military said it had arrested dozens of prominent communist figures, disrupting the group’s chain of command from the CPP leadership down to its guerrillas in the field.

Shortly after taking office in mid-2016, Duterte, a self-described leftist and a former student of Sison, opened peace talks with the CPP and released dozens of detained insurgent leaders as a goodwill measure.But Duterte subsequently pulled out from the talks, accusing the communist rebels of continuing with attacks on government targets, especially in the countryside.

Bello meets with NDF reps in Utrecht for Duterte’s “last card” for peace

From the Philippine Information Agency (Dec 9, 2019): Bello meets with NDF reps in Utrecht for Duterte’s “last card” for peace (By Carolyn O. Arguillas)

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 09 December) – Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, government peace panel chair in the negotiations with the National Democratic Front (NDF) until President Rodrigo Duterte terminated the peace talks two years ago, arrived in Utrecht, The Netherlands on Saturday for the President’s “last card” for peace.

Bello told MindaNews in a telephone interview Sunday that he arrived in Utrecht Saturday and had initial talks with NDF representatives led by Jose Ma. Sison, Fidel Agcaoili and Luis Jalandoni and were continuing the discussions on Sunday.

As of 9 p.m. Monday, Bello had not responded to queries on the progress of the meetings.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III arrived in Utrecht, The Netherlands on Saturday, December 7, 2019, two days after President Rodrigo Duterte announced he was sending Bello to talk to the National Democratic Front (NDF) leadership in Utrecht for his “last card” for peace. Photo courtesy of OPAPP

Duterte on December 5 announced in Legazpi City during the Situation Briefing on the Effects of Typhoon ‘Tisoy’ in the Bicol Region that he was sending Bello to Utrecht to talk with the NDF leadership. The NDF represents the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and New People’s Army (NPA) in the peace negotiations.

“Now, this is the first time that I will reveal it. I’m sending Secretary Bello…. So he should go there. Talk to them and… My… I cannot — I cannot talk about it basta he… I’m sending him back to Sison and talk to him about… Malaman lang ninyo ‘yan pagka — pagdating ng panahon (You’ll find out when the time comes),” Duterte said.

“If (Sison) agrees, ito ang sabi — sabi ko last card (this is what I say – my last card). When I say my last card is — my time is running out,” Duterte added.

Duterte terminated the peace negotiations with the NDF through Proclamation 360 on November 23, 2017 just as the government peace panel was on its way to Utrecht supposedly for another round of talks.

On December 5, 2017, Duterte signed Proclamation 374 designating the CPP-NPA as a terrorist group.

A year later, on December 4, 2018, Duterte issued Executive Order No. 70 “institutionalizing the whole-of-nation approach in attaining inclusive and sustainable peace, creating a National Task Force to end Local Communist Armed Conflict, and directing the adoption of a National Peace Framework.”

The EO institutionalized Duterte’s preference for “localized peace talks.”

Before announcing in Legazpi that he was sending Bello to Utrecht, Duterte explained that “there can never be a statement that would end finality (sic) in everything that you say in public.”

He acknowledged that he said “That’s it, I do not want to talk to you guys, Forget it,” but added, “I cannot stop. Hindi ko pwedeng sabihin, ‘Ayaw ko na makipag-usap’ (I cannot just say I don’t want to talk anymore). That is not a statement of a leader, of a President.”

He said he expects the military would react to this move “but you know you should understand that the quest for — the longing for peace is always there. And not for the military and the police but for everybody. Kailangan — the doors must be open always or the — there must be at least one channel if everything closes na pwede mong pakiusapan (that you can talk with).

In a statement on December 6, House Deputy Minority leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate and Bayan Muna Rep. Eufemia Cullamat of Surigao del Sur welcomed the President’s move to send Bello to Utrecht.

“A positive development,” Zarate said, as he called for the immediate resumption of the talks based on the initialed agreements last June 2017.

“We are of the position that the peace talks would be faster if it would resume where they left off and no preconditions would be imposed. The last document the two negotiating panels agreed was the Stand-Down Agreement that binds the military, the police, and the New People’s Army from hostilities as ‘goodwill and confidence-building measures’ for the previously agreed resumption of the fifth round of talks supposed to be held last June 2017,” Zarate added.

Both parties were supposed to take up the ceasefire and Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) in the fifth round scheduled on May 27 to June 2, 2017 in The Netherlands, but the government panel did not participate “for lack of compelling reason,” due to the NDF’s instruction to NPA units to intensify offensives across the country following President Duterte’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao on May 23 that year.

The GRP and NDF peace panels signed on April 5, 2017 an interim joint ceasefire agreement that would take effect only upon the approval and signing of guidelines and ground rules. The panels were set to discuss the guidelines and ground rules during the fifth round of formal talks.

Cullamat said the appeals and issues of the masses should be heard and attended to and the peace talks resumed so the roots of the conflict would be addressed.

She hopes the resumption of the talks is not a “patibong para sikilin at ikulong ang mga dadalo dito” (ploy to oppress and jail those who will attend).

In a statement titled “Dialogue and Peace Talks: The Way Forward,” issued on December 6, the 8th Ecumenical Church Leaders’ Summit on Peace in Silang, Cavite, “welcomed and celebrated” President Duterte’s move to send Bello to Utrecht and expressed hope for the immediate resumption of formal peace talks.

The Summit brought together 110 church leaders from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao representing five major religious federations/groups in the Philippines under the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP) and participants from other sectors.

The Summit called on both government and the NDF to “work towards the resumption of the formal peace talks to address the roots of the armed conflict” and to “immediately work for the signing of the CASER and a bilateral ceasefire agreement.”

It also called on the government to “immediately release Rey Claro Casambre and other political prisoners including NDFP peace consultants on humanitarian grounds” and the CPP-NPA-NDF to “release prisoners of war as well.”

It also urged faith communities to expand efforts to conduct creative activities in both formal and non-formal education in public and private schools, and dialogue under the banner of PEPP, and “further broaden the support for resumption of the GRP-NDFP formal peace talks.”

The statement was signed by Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Antonio J. Ledesma and Right Revd. Rex B. Reyes, Jr., co-chairs, and Bishop Noel Pantoja, National President of the PCEC, Bishops Deogracias Iniguez Jr., co-chair of the EBF and Sister Mary John Mananzan, Women and Gender Commission of the AMRSP.

Iloilo City peace and order council denounces CTGs

From the Philippine Information Agency (Dec 9, 2019): Iloilo City peace and order council denounces CTGs (By Leonard T. Pineda, I)

ILOILO CITY, Dec. 9 (PIA-6) – The Iloilo City Peace and Order Council (CPOC) has issued a strong declaration in the form of a resolution that denounced the atrocities and acts of violence being perpetrated by communist terrorist groups (CTGs) in the different areas of the country.

In the regular CPOC meeting of the city government here held recently, Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) Director Col. Martin Defensor, Jr. said that Iloilo City
should not allow the presence of CTGs and declare the CPP/NPA as persona non grata.

In the resolution, it is indicated that Iloilo City was declared as a white area, meaning there is no threat of internal security operation.

“Yet there is persistent information that the CPP/NPA uses the city as a rest and recreational area and to transact their other underground dealings,”
said Defensor.

He said that the ICPO denounced the presence of CTGS in Iloilo City and will not allow their presence in the barangays.

Through the resolution approved by the CPOC, it is recommended to the Sangguniang Panglungsod of Iloilo City for the passage of a similar resolution denouncing all forms of atrocities and acts of violence of CTGs. (JBG/LTP/PIA-Iloilo)

Conflicting families make peace; yield 43 firearms in Basilan

From the Philippine Information Agency (Dec 9, 2019): Conflicting families make peace; yield 43 firearms in Basilan (By Rene V. Carbayas with reports from 4th SFBn PA)

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ISABELA CITY, Basilan, Dec 7 (PIA) – Conflicting families in Lantawan town finally made peace and surrendered some 43 high-powered firearms recently.

The Army’s Fourth Special Forces Battalion (4SFBn) here said that the efforts of the military is historic in bringing together warring families to a peace covenant and surrender of firearms.

As a show of support and gratitude to the military, the feuding families together with their respective Barangay Chairpersons of Lantawan Municipality voluntarily surrendered their firearms.

Lieutenant Colonel Achilles A. Dela Cruz, 4SFBn commander said the feuding families from Barangay Lawi-Lawi have finally settled their clan war, locally known as “Rido”, and pledged through a peace covenant to embrace peace and live in harmony.

“For almost six years, there were sporadic armed confrontations between the feuding families which resulted in great damage of properties and unnecessary loss of innocent lives,” he said.

LTC Dela Cruz presented a total of 43 assorted high-powered firearms to Brigadier General Fernando M. Reyeg, commander of the 101st Brigade and Joint Task Force-Basilan.

In his message, Brigadier General Reyeg emphasized the importance of peace and order in the community.

“Ang amin pong tinututukan ay ang mga Barangay. Makakaasa kayo, sa mga nagsisilbi ng maayos sa kanilang mga Barangay, sa proteksyon at tulong ng Armed Forces of the Philippines na ibibigay sa inyo (We are focusing on the villages. To those who are serving well in their barangays, rest assured of the army’s protection and help)”, said the JTF-Basilan Commander.

Brigadier General Reyeg also affirmed the surrender of firearms by the respective Barangay Chairpersons as a welcome desire and commitment of the officials to peace and development.

According to him, the proliferation of loose firearms in the community is contributory to the existence of Rido.

“Kapag may mga baril [loose firearms] sa ating paligid, yan ay isang mitsa ng kaguluhan (The presence of loose firearms sparks conflict in the community,” Reyeg further explained.

The activity ended with warm embraces between the members of the formerly feuding families. (EDT/RVC/PIA9-Basilan with reports from 1Lt Clint AG Ramos-CMO/4SFB/PA)

Army : Don’t let CPP-NPA-NDF mislead you

From the Philippine Information Agency (Dec 9, 2019): Army : Don’t let CPP-NPA-NDF mislead you (By Lorenzo O. Lambatin, Jr.)

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NEGROS OCCIDENTAL, Dec. 9 (PIA6)—Brigadier General Benedict Arevalo, commander of the Philippine Army 's 303rd Brigade, recently urged students of Bago City College (BCC) not to fall prey on the "Deceptive Youth Recruitment Strategy of the Communist Party of the Philippines, New People’s Army and National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF".

In a lecture, Arevalo explained the deceptive schemes of CPP-NPA-NDF in infiltrating the different schools, state colleges and universities, a press release from the brigade said.

He warned the students to be wary of the NDF organizations saying these groups will only fool them, fill their hearts with hatred and will distort their minds with lies to convince them to join or support the NPA.

Arevalo showed to the 500 faculty and students, a short animated video entitled "Pindoy," exposing the modus of the CPP-NPA-NDF in deceiving and misleading the youth to join the NPA.

He emphasized that students should be discerning in knowing what activism is from terrorism. He stressed that activism is not a crime but supporting terrorism is a crime.

Last month, Arevalo was also invited to speak on the same topic at the Colegio De Sta. Ana De Victorias in Victorias City as guest of honor and speaker for the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC). (JBG/303rd Brigade, PA/LLJR-PIA6)

Army brigade in NorthMin appreciates CHR's action vs use of child warriors

From the Philippine Information Agency (Dec 9, 2019): Army brigade in NorthMin appreciates CHR's action vs use of child warriors (By 403rd Infantry Brigade, Philippine Army)

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CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Dec. 9 -- The Army's 403rd "Peacemaker" Brigade based in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon expressed appreciation to the initiatives and prompt action of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) calling on the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA), as non-state armed group, to respect and adhere to the provisions of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) specifically demanding for the NPA to stop recruiting minors and cease from utilizing them as child warriors.

In a statement released by CHR spokesperson Jacqueline De Guia, the CHR said,
“The Commission strongly denounces the use of child soldiers in armed conflict. Nothing can justify this deplorable practice. Under the International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, even non-state armed groups must respect the prohibition to recruit and use children in armed conflict and hostilities. We remind all armed groups that the use of child soldiers constitutes a war crime.”

The government has been condemning the CPP-NPA for its deception activities in schools and communities to recruit minors for later utilization as child warriors, mostly victimizing Indigenous People youths and students. Parents were crying for the loss of their children as they were taken by CPP-NPA to bear arms and fight the government.

The IP children were promised that their families will be receiving compensation and food supplies upon entry to CPP-NPA. While these seem impossible, many children were deceived and victimized. Former NPA members that have returned to the folds of law and are now leaving a new life with their loved ones can attest to this.

"It pains us to see children’s rights being violated and children being used for the selfish desire of the communist terrorists to take control of the government and bring an end to our democratic system," said 403rd Brigade Commander BGen Edgardo De Leon

"We are hopeful that the investigation of this crime against humanity will commence soon. We shall fully cooperate with CHR in their investigation and provide assistance if necessary. We can help them interview former rebels who were recruited and utilized as child warriors. As soldiers, we reaffirm our commitment to respect International Humanitarian Law in the performance of our constitutional mandate of protecting the Filipino people," De Leon added. (403rd Infantry Brigade, PA)

4ID urges youth to stand-up against NPA’s recruitment of minors

From the Philippine Information Agency (Dec 9, 2019): 4ID urges youth to stand-up against NPA’s recruitment of minors (By 4th Infantry Division, Philippine Army)

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CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Dec. 9 --The 4th Infantry “Diamond” Division of the Philippine Army urges the youth to stand up against the Communist Terrorist Groups (CTGs) recruitment of minors.

Based on 4ID records for the period 2016 to 2019, the CTGs were recruiting minors as young as 12 years old. The average age of recruits in Northern Mindanao and CARAGA Regions is 17 years old.

Just recently, a 16-year old New People's Army (NPA) member named Litboy Binongcasan was killed in an encounter with the troops of the 23rd Infantry “Masigasig” Battalion at the hinterlands of Brgy. Manila de Bugabos, Butuan City. He was recruited when he was just 14-years old.

His mother Genelyn Binongcasan emotionally said, “Nganu man gi-rekrut sa NPA akong menor-de-edad nga anak? Kung wala nila ni ma-rekrut, makatabang pa unta ni sa amoa bisan pa man nga mag-uuma lang mi, hapsay nga namuyo.” (Why did the NPA recruited my minor son? If they haven’t recruited him, he might have been able to help our family even if we are just farmers, living peacefully.)

MGen Franco Nemesio Gacal, 4ID Commander said, “The CTGs are destroying not just the lives of the minor combatants but also our nation’s future. In time for the National Human Rights Consciousness Week, it is high time for the youth to stand-up against the Human Rights violations of the CPP-NPA-NDF and one of them is their recruitment of minors.”

Gacal also urges the parents to take action against the vicious cycle of NPA recruitment to save the precious lives of our Filipino children. (4ID, PA)

Army holds Prov'l Leadership Youth Summit in NegOr

From the Philippine Information Agency (Dec 9, 2019): Army holds Prov'l Leadership Youth Summit in NegOr  (By Roi Anthoni Lomotan)

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DUMAGUETE CITY, Dec. 7 (PIA) -- The 302nd Infantry Brigade (IB) of the Philippine Army (PA) led a three-day Provincial Youth Leadership Summit (YLS) here attended by around 110 young people from different areas in Negros Oriental.

YLS officially opened yesterday at the YMCA-Dumaguete Conference Hall with the theme: “Ang Kabatan-unan ang Paglaum sa Nasud.”

Col. Wilfredo Villahermosa (standing, left), chief of staff of the 3rd Infantry Division of Philippine Army, delivers the keynote message for the opening ceremony of the Provincial Youth Leadership Summit held Dec. 6, 2019 at YMCA-Dumaguete Conference Hall, Dumaguete City. Seated in front are (l-r) Negros Oriental SK Federation President Adem Maxino, 302nd Infantry Brigade Commander Col. Noel Baluyan, and Dumaguete City Vice Mayor Alan Gel Cordova. (PIA7-NegOr)

The participants came from La Libertad, Mabinay, Bais City, Pamplona, Valencia, Sibulan, Dumaguete City, Bacong, Zambonaguita, Bayawan City, and representatives from Silliman University ROTC Unit.

PA 3rd Infantry Division (ID) Chief of Staff Col. Wilfredo Villahermosa joined the opening ceremony and delivered the keynote message.

In his speech, Villahermosa encouraged the youth to continue supporting the Philippine Army, citing that the YLS is one of their programs to reach out to young people and enhance their leadership potentials.

“We do this activity para magiging informed kayo and also to capacitate your leadership potentials. Pinag-aralan itong activity na ito (We do this activity to inform you and also to capacitate your leadership potentials. This activity was planned carefully for you),” Villahermosa told his audience.

He discussed insurgency in his message, noting that organisations affiliated with the Communist Party of the Philippines - New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) target the recruitment of young people because they energetic, passionate, easy to persuade, and can highly influence their peers.

He described them to be “good at deception.”

“We just hope that after this seminar, when you go back to your municipalities, save the other youths in your area,” Villahermosa said as he also shared with them some encounters in other provinces where some of the casualties were young people recruited by rebel groups.

In a media interview after the opening ceremony, Villahermosa reiterated that there are ways for young people to show nationalism without turning to armed struggle.

“Ano ba ang mapapala ng mga kabataan natin sakaling pumapasok sa kanila? Sasabihin na nasyonalismo but we can always be nationalistic in a way na hindi natin kailangan magdala ng armas. We can do it in our way na hindi tayo magiging against sa gobyerno. Lahat tayo pwede maging committed para sa improvement ng ating bansa but taking arms or mag-a-armas ka ng sarili mo, definitely that is a violation (What can they gain when they enter these organisations? They say it’s about nationalism but we can always be nationalistic without turning to armed struggle. We can do it without going against the government. All of us can commit for the improvement of our country but if you take arms or arm yourself, that is definitely a violation),” he said.

Participants during the summit engaged on formal sessions tackling topics on drug awareness, values formation, youth awareness and youth infiltration, disaster preparedness, the Sangguniang Kabataan Reform Act, religious interventions, among others.

302nd IB Commander Col. Noel Baluyan disclosed that the YLS is a joint undertaking between the Philippine Army and the Provincial Government of Negros Oriental through the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC).

The YLS can also be an avenue to promote the government’s thrust to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (ELCAC) among young people.

“Pwede natin to ikabit sa ELCAC - one of the information awareness of ELCAC. We have to continuously inform the youth sa kanilang role. We believe the youth have a critical role to play sa peace and development particularly sa Negros Oriental (We can tie this up to ELCAC or this can be one of the information awareness activities of ELCAC. We have to continuously inform the youth on their role. We believe the youth have a critical role to play in peace and development particularly in Negros Oriental),” Baluyan said.

The brigade commander is looking forward to the sustainability of this program for young people in the next couple of years.

Meanwhile, Dumaguete City Vice Mayor Alan Gel Cordova also shared his message to the participants.

Cordova urged the participants to be aware on the current issues of the country so they can develop critical thinking and make critical decisions as leaders. (ral/PIA7-Negros Oriental)

Soldiers killed, hurt in Eastern Samar clash to get cash aid

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 9, 2019): Soldiers killed, hurt in Eastern Samar clash to get cash aid (By Gerico Sabalza)

PRESIDENTIAL VISIT. President Rodrigo Duterte visits one of the soldiers wounded in a recent clash in Borongan City, Eastern Samar at the Divine Word Hospital in Tacloban City on Nov. 15, 2019. Aside from other agencies, the Employees’ Compensation Commission (ECC) will extend financial aid to the families’ soldiers killed and wounded in the encounter with the New People’s Army last November 11. (Presidential photo)

TACLOBAN CITY – The Employees’ Compensation Commission (ECC) will extend financial aid to the families of soldiers killed and wounded in the recent encounters with the New People’s Army in Borongan, Eastern Samar.
Under ECC’s quick response program, families of killed soldiers will get PHP15,000 each while each of the 24 wounded-in-action soldiers is entitled to PHP10,000 cash aid.

ECC Eastern Visayas officer-in-charge Michelle Basal said this is on top of the medical, death and funeral benefits of those killed-in-action and the rehabilitation services to the wounded.

“We immediately coordinated with the Philippine Army for us to provide the initial interventions for them. Our personnel visited them at the Divine Word Hospital and in Camp Lukban station hospital in Catbalogan City to give them groceries and to talk to them what form of assistance we could provide,”
Basal said in an interview Monday.

The fatalities include Sgt. Rex Jadulco, Cpl. Ronald Go, Cpl. Limar Banug, Private First-Class Kent Lloyd Agullo, Private Charlie Del Rosario, and Private First Class Junmar Buranday.

The Commission will also provide all necessary rehabilitation services to the 24 wounded soldiers including all the hospital expenses plus PHP500 meal and travel allowance every time they have hospital appointments. This is only applicable in five hospitals regionwide accredited by ECC.

“What we want to do is to help them recover from the contingency and bring back their lost hope. Some of them are traumatized that is why we also conducted psycho-social counseling,” the officer-in-charge said.

The ECC is a government agency mandated by law to provide Filipino workers meaningful and appropriate compensation, and comprehensive package of services and benefits in work-related contingencies.

The ECC aid is on top of other government assistance to be received by the killed and injured soldiers from other agencies.

Korean firm provides P1-M financial aid for Filipino vets

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 9, 2019): Korean firm provides P1-M financial aid for Filipino vets (By Marna Dagumboy Del Rosario)

ASSISTANCE FOR FILIPINO VETS. Donggwang Clark Corp. chair Lee Shin Kun (left) hands to Kapampangan Development Foundation Inc. president Benny Ricafort (right) a PHP1-million funding assistance to Philippine Expeditionary Forces to Korea (PEFTOK) veterans during the signing of a memorandum of agreement on Monday (Dec. 9, 2019). Lee said it is their way of gratitude for the heroism and bravery demonstrated by the Filipino soldiers during Korean war. (Photo by Marna Dagumboy-Del Rosario)

CLARK FREEPORT, Pampanga -- Korean firm Donggwang Clark Corporation (DCC) and Kapampangan Development Foundation Inc. (KDFI) inked an agreement on Monday to provide funding assistance to the members of the Philippine Expeditionary Forces to Korea (PEFTOK).

In a ceremony, DCC chairman Lee Shin Kun and KDFI president Benny Ricafort gave PHP1 million for the Filipino veterans during the Korean war.

The funding is provided by DCC as its way of gratitude for the heroism and bravery demonstrated by the Filipino soldiers during the Korean war.

DCC partnered with KDFI, a private foundation that is apolitical, in the delivery of medical and educational assistance to the veterans and descendants.

KDFI has been selected as a partner because it has already existing programs on cataract operations, prosthetic equipment, harelip medical procedures, and training programs on livelihood.

“This project, by DCC chairman Lee, which is helping the PEFTOK is terrific,” Ricafort said.

He said the PEFTOK during their survey numbers around 60 to 70 who can be found mostly in Capas, Tarlac, Pampanga, and Bulacan.

Ricafort said they initially target to support persons with disabilities who are members of the PEFTOK.

PEFTOK is the first contingent of a large number sent by the Philippine government to the United Nations forces that fought in the Korean War in 1950.

PEFTOK’s 10th Battalion Combat Team president Maj. Maximo Young (retired) said there are 68 PEFTOK members who were still alive as of 2018.

Army vows sustained offensive vs. BIFF in Maguindanao

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 9, 2019): Army vows sustained offensive vs. BIFF in Maguindanao (By Edwin Fernandez)

CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao -- The military said Monday its "surgical operation" against the Islamic State-linked Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) has so far resulted in the recovery and deactivation of 34 powerful improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Maguindanao.

“The government’s good intension will continue to defeat the ill-motives of the BIFF terrorists,” said Major Gen. Diosdado Carreon, the commander of the 6th Infantry Division and Joint Task Force Central.

The offensive was launched after military intelligence confirmed information that the lawless elements have plotted to set off IEDs in civilian communities in the region.

So far, the military said it has recovered and deactivated a total of 34 powerful IEDs of various make and detonating mechanism since Nov. 15 in the adjoining towns of Shariff Aguak, Datu Saudi, Mamasapano and Shariff Saydona Mustapha, all in Maguindanao’s second district where the BIFF mainly operates.

The surgical operation later stretched out to the towns of Datu Piang, Guindulungan, and Datu Anggal Midtimbang, also in Maguindanao’s second district.

Carreon said that aside from IEDs, the military forces under the Army’s 601st Infantry Brigade, also seized more than 20 high-powered firearms and mortar tube with live ammunition, grenades, and launchers, to include machine guns and black ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) flags, among others.

The military suffered three fatalities and a dozen wounded in the continuing operations while the BIFF sustained 15 fatalities based on information from village officials in affected communities and still being validated by the soldiers.

Carreon said no civilian was hurt in the operations. However, at least 40,000 civilians have been displaced by the skirmishes, the provincial social welfare office reported.

AFP respects PRRD plan to give Reds chance for negotiations

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 9, 2019): AFP respects PRRD plan to give Reds chance for negotiations (By Priam Nepomuceno) 

AFP spokesperson, Marine Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo. (File photo)

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) respects the decision of President Rodrigo R. Duterte to give communist rebels another chance for peace negotiations.

"The AFP respects and supports the wisdom of the Commander-in-Chief in issuing such pronouncements,"
AFP spokesperson Marine Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said in a message forwarded to reporters over the weekend.

Earlier, Duterte announced that he will send Department of Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre Bello III the Netherlands to discuss with Communist Party of the Philippines founding chair Jose Maria "Joma" Sison his administration's plans to give them another chance for a dialogue that will pave the way for peace talks.

"We understand that those instructions to Secretary Bello are in the nature of exploratory discussion with Mr. Sison and are meant towards the attainment of sustainable peace which is the President's and also the AFP's ultimate desire,"
Arevalo said.

The AFP, however, will continue with its successful focus military operations in support of the National Task Force in Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict which is now is reaping the gains tremendously in terms of New People's Army neutralization and the enormous support of the local government and the people, he added.

"If we are to negotiate, therefore, we so do from the position of strength," Arevalo said. He also reiterated the AFP leadership, from past to present, is wholly supportive of the peace process along with the rest of the Filipino nation who is yearning for lasting and legitimate peace.

"Time and again, the AFP leadership from the incumbent Chief-of-Staff General Noel Clement and his predecessors, we unequivocally commit to all-out peace that shall embody the aspirations of our people who have long been yearning for it," Arevalo said.

Use of child warriors in armed conflict deplorable: CHR exec

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 9, 2019): Use of child warriors in armed conflict deplorable: CHR exec (By Azer Parrocha)

MANILA – The Commission on Human Rights has ‘strongly’ condemned the use of child soldiers in armed conflict, vowing to launch an investigation into reports that a minor allegedly used by the New People’s Army (NPA) was reportedly killed in an encounter with government forces last week.

“The Commission strongly denounces the use of child soldiers in armed conflict. Nothing can justify this deplorable practice,” CHR spokesperson, Atty. Jacqueline Ann de Guia said in a statement.

Authorities identified the minor as 16-year-old Litboy Talja Binongcasan, a grade six pupil from Gingoog City, Misamis Oriental.

“We send our deepest sympathy to the family of Litboy. CHR shall investigate this case to bring it to its just resolution,” De Guia said.

Citing the International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, the CHR official said even non-state armed groups must respect the prohibition to recruit and use children in armed conflict and hostilities.

“We remind all armed groups that the use of child soldiers constitutes a war crime,” she said.

She reminded all armed groups to uphold the welfare and rights of children at all times, stressing that “putting children in the battlefield imperils and endangers them.”

“Even if they survive armed encounters, the psychological and mental impact can be lifelong. Litboy was still in his development years and should be focusing on honing his potentials so he can pursue his goals and dreams but his life was snuffed out and can no longer be taken back,” she added.

Constant vigilance

Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar also extended condolences to Litboy’s family and urged the public to be vigilant against the recruitment of child warriors by armed groups.

Andanar described exploiting children to forward ideological goals as “highly immoral for any state and non-state actors”.

“We would like to extend our condolences to the family of Litboy for this unfortunate event. We would also like to request for the family of Litboy and for everyone to be more vigilant and attentive to the activities your children take part in,” Andanar said in a separate statement.

“We ask you to do your part in order to halt and prevent any further exploitation and recruitment of our children by the CPP (Communist Party of the Philippines)-NPA and other insurgent groups,” he added.

Andanar assured that the Duterte administration will undertake measures to prevent more minors from being recruited by armed groups.

“The government will continue to fight for our children’s rights and it will do all it can to protect and prevent them from being caught up in armed conflict as we pursue peace and security for our country,” Andanar said.

The CPP-NPA has been listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.

Last week, President Rodrigo Duterte bared that he has directed Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III to talk peace with CPP founding chair Jose Maria Sison.

“Now this is the first time I will reveal it. I’m sending Secretary Bello. Komunista naman talaga ito siya (He’s really a communist) so he should go there, talk to them, and… I cannot talk about it...but I’m sending him back to Sison and talk to him,” he said.

On Mar. 18, 2019, Duterte terminated the national government’s negotiating peace panel led by Bello, following the stalled peace negotiations with the CPP’s political wing, the National Democratic Front (NDF).

Duterte formally terminated the peace talks with the communist rebels by signing of Proclamation 360 on Nov. 23, 2017 following the string of attacks staged by the NPA against the government forces.

PH Army joins Nat'l Human Rights Consciousness Week

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 9, 2019): PH Army joins Nat'l Human Rights Consciousness Week (By Priam Nepomuceno)

Army chief, Lt. Gen. Gilbert I. Gapay. (File photo)

The Philippine Army (PA) on Monday joined the rest of the country in commemorating the 2019 National Human Rights Consciousness Week (NHRCW).

Newly-appointed Army chief, Lt. Gen. Gilbert I. Gapay, led the activity which was conducted in line with Republic Act No. 9201, also known as the “National Human Rights Consciousness Week Act of 2002”, aimed at bringing awareness to the people of “their basic human rights in relation to the functions and services offered by these government instrumentalities”.

The PA, along with the implementation of its institutional transformation, is strictly adhering to the Rule of Law, the International Humanitarian Law, as well as other related laws and policies that promote and advocate respect for human rights, Army spokesperson, Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said.

As a result, the Army obtained a Net Trust Rating of +79 and a Net Satisfaction Rating of +75 in 2018. Currently, the Army has a record of zero human rights violations.

“The high levels of trust and approval that we are experiencing today are because of the hard work that has been done as well as the commitment that we have all made to transform our institution and ourselves,” Gapay said.

With professionalism, discipline, and dedication to duty, Gapay bared that the PA will continue forward with its journey to becoming a world-class Army that is a source of national pride by 2028.

PRRD ‘quite happy’ with performance of military, police

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 9, 2019): PRRD ‘quite happy’ with performance of military, police (By Azer Parrocha)

President Rodrigo R. Duterte

President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said he was satisfied with the performance of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP).

“I am quite happy with the performance of the Armed Forces and the police,” Duterte said during the oath-taking ng newly appointed AFP generals and flag officers and PNP star rank officers in MalacaƱang.

However, he admitted the presence of errant police personnel but sought the public for more time to cleanse the agency.

“Ang sa police lang (The police force), it needs to be corrected. It has always been a problem sa any administration for that matter. So give me time to move and correct,” he added.

Meanwhile, Duterte reminded military and police personnel to fight corruption within government even if he does not get to finish the end of his term in 2022.

“If I do not make it to the finish line, at the end of my term... Hingiin ko lang sa inyo ito, trillion ‘yan. Kaya ang hingiin ko sa military pati pulis (I will make a request...that’s trillions. That’s why what I’m going to ask the military and police…),” Duterte said.

“You are one of the pressure group in a democracy, the other one are the Congress… Pero huwag kayong pumayag na hindi marekober ng bayan ang ninakaw nila (But don’t allow yourselves not to recover what they have stolen),” he added.

Duterte did not identify which funds he was referring to but spoke of corruption among higher-ups which went far beyond the Bureau of Customs.

“Hindi ba sinabi ko sa inyo noon nung puliti --- nagkakampanya ako, ang corruption dito sa taas (Didn’t I tell you during my presidential campaign, corruption is up there), when I was going after the Customs, sabi ko hindi dito, sa taas. Marami pa ‘yan. Pero ito nandiyan sa lahat eh (I said, not here but up there. There’s more). No need to interpret or to go into semantics,” Duterte said.

In his speech, Duterte lashed out anew on the alleged onerous water concession agreements between government and Maynilad Water Services Inc. and Manila Water Co.

He questioned how government and the water concessionaires would arrive at a compromise over the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in Singapore for the former to pay the latter over damages.

The Singapore arbitration has ordered the government to pay Maynilad about PHP3.6 billion in damages for the company’s losses over the refusal to implement tariff adjustment for 2013 to 2017.

It also asked the government to pay PHP7.4 billion to Manila Water as compensation for losses and damages from delayed water rate increases since 2015.

Duterte, however, refused to pay the owners and threatened to sue them for “economic plunder”.

Gov’t vows to quell terrorist threat against youth

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 9, 2019): Gov’t vows to quell terrorist threat against youth (By Azer Parrocha)

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea 

The government renewed its commitment to protect children in situations of armed conflict as it joins the world in observing International Human Rights Day on Tuesday (December 10).

In a statement on Monday, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea said that despite the steps made to establish a “child-friendly society”, there remains a “serious threat” to these government efforts.

"In various parts of the country, our children and youth are exploited by groups that advance terrorism. Children and youth, mostly from indigenous communities and as young as 11 years old, are trafficked by local armed Communists, taken to the hinterlands, and forced into becoming warriors,"
Medialdea said.

"While some of them have been rescued by government forces, some were not as fortunate as they became casualties in armed encounters where they were ordered to participate by their abusers,"
he added.

Medialdea said the government will fully implement the Special Protection of Children in Situations of Armed Conflict Act signed by the President in January this year.

The law requires the state to “provide special protection to children in situations of armed conflict from all forms of abuse, violence, neglect, cruelty, discrimination and other conditions prejudicial to their development, taking into consideration their gender, cultural, ethnic and religious background”.

It also requires the state to take all feasible measures to “prevent the recruitment, re-recruitment, use, displacement of, or grave child rights violations against children involved in armed conflict”.

"We are committed to quell this terrorist threat against our children and youth," Medialdea said.

"We are determined that every Filipino must continue to enjoy the fruits of peace, freedom, and progress. But such a resolve can only be fully realized in a society that allows our children and youth to rise as productive movers and future leaders of the country," he added.

New education facilities

The Palace official bared that new education facilities will replace the 55 Salugpungan schools in Mindanao which were shut down following allegations they were training grounds for the raising of child warriors.

He also appealed to parents and guardians anew to discourage their children from being lured into terrorism.

“Through the parents, relatives, and loved ones of these children, we shall appeal to the thousands of youth that have been lured to terrorism to return to their families. We shall encourage them to reclaim their role in nation-building,” Medialdea said.

“A much better future for the Filipino children and youth; a progressive society where they can thrive and develop their full human potentials. This is the vision that rouses the Duterte administration to action. Let us move as one to achieve it,” he added.

Medialdea’s statement came following reports that a minor allegedly used by the New People’s Army (NPA) was reportedly killed in an encounter with government forces last week.

The Commission on Human Rights is set to launch an investigation into the NPA recruitment of 16-year-old Litboy Talja Binongcasan, a sixth-grade student from Gingoog City, Misamis Oriental.

According to the United Nations website, Human Rights Day is observed every year on 10 December — the day the UN General Assembly adopted, in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR): a milestone document proclaiming the inalienable rights which everyone is inherently entitled to as a human being.

This year’s theme “Stand Up for Human Rights” aims “to celebrate the potential of youth as constructive agents of change, amplify their voices, and engage a broad range of global audiences in the promotion and protection of rights”.

The campaign, led by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), is designed to “encourage, galvanize, and showcase how youth all over the world stand up for rights and against racism, hate speech, bullying, discrimination, and climate change, to name a few”.