BUTUAN CITY, Dec. 12 -- The 402nd Infantry (Stingers) Brigade, Philippine Army in Caraga lauded the bold step of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) in probing the continuing use of child warriors by the Communist Party of the Philippines - New People's Army Terrorist (CNT).
In an online article published on Sunday, December 8, 2019, the CHR denounced the CNT's supposed use of a 16-year-old boy as a soldier, saying the use of minors in combat is a war crime. Likewise, CHR Spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said, "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."
Brig. Gen. Maurito Licudine, 402nd Brigade Commander, said they welcome the latest pronouncement of CHR condemning the CNT's use of child warriors and its action to investigate the recruitment of children. "They can interview all the former rebels and know their story. We are very confident that the truth will come out and the CHR can now listen first-hand about the deceptive tactics and the ploys of the CNTs in luring to fight the government," he said.
It can be recalled that a 16-year-old minor, Litboy Binongcasan, was killed during an encounter between the troops of 23rd Infantry Battalion under the 402nd Brigade and CNTs belonging to Sentro de Gravidad (SDG) Caocao, Guerilla Front 4A of the North Central Mindanao Regional Committee (NCMRC) under alias Weds/Patrick on November 30, 2019 at Sitio Salvacion, Barangay Manila de Bugabos, Butuan City.
The unfortunate demise of the said minor was denounced by the different sectors of the society. The social media netizens also condemned the use of children as child warriors and pushed them as a combatant at their young age to be involved in an armed conflict.
BGen. Licudine said, for this year alone, they have recorded a total of 10 minor CNT members (one killed, nine surrendered). "It showed the CNTs continue to violate the rights of the children guaranteed under the International Humanitarian Law and the fundamental laws of our land," he said.
"Without the indoctrination and agitation of the CTGs, these children could be in school or with their families enjoying the Christmas season and not carrying firearms and experiencing a violent life," added BGen. Licudine. (Maj. Francisco P. Garello, Jr., CMO Officer, 402IB PA/PIA Caraga)