By LUIS G. JALANDONI
Chairperson, NDFP Negotiating Panel
The AFP and PNP, identified by the GRP’s own Commission on Human Rights as the worst human rights violators, are also the worst violators of children’s rights. A big number of victims of their military operations such as forced evacuations, food and population control, indiscriminate bombardment and firing, and illegal searches and arrests, are children and women. From 21 January 2001 up to 5 December 2004, KARAPATAN, the leading human rights organization in the Philippines, documented 3,560 cases of HR violations involving 198,308 victims, 18,977 families, 123 communities and 1,106 households.
The AFP and PNP have been raiding rural communities, capturing children, misrepresenting them as NPA recruits, detaining them for intimidation, humiliation and propaganda purposes, hostaging them and preventing their families and relatives from claiming them for long periods. The children are subjected to brutal and multiple violations of their rights.
It is therefore ridiculous that the AFP and PNP, together with the RPA-ABB which collaborates with them against the revolutionary movement, as well as pseudo human rights organizations, pretend to be champions of children’s rights and falsely accuse the revolutionary movement of recruiting child soldiers.
They make their baseless allegations without presenting any iota of evidence.
The truth of the matter is that the NPA carries out a longstanding policy of the CPP that only those who have reached the age of 18 or above may be recruited as NPA fighters. As far back as 1988, the Political Bureau of the CPP already issued such a policy. Moreover, on October 15, 1999, the Executive Committee of the CPP Central Committee amended the Basic Rules of the NPA expressly stipulating that the minimum age for NPA combatants is 18.
The revolutionary movement upholds the rights of children and is committed to implement the provisions of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) pertaining to them. Article 10 of Part IV Respect for International Humanitarian Law states: “The Parties shall provide special attention to women and children to ensure their physical and moral integrity. Children shall not be allowed to take part in hostilities.”
The revolutionary movement recognizes the right and capability of children to perform their role as children in cultural, health, educational and other non-combatant tasks.