Philippine guerillas deny using children in war

By Gerry Albert Corpuz in Manila and Billy Javier Reyes in Tacloban City

MANILA, Philippines- The communist led National Democratic Front of the Philippines in Eastern Visayas (NDFP-Eastern Visayas on Thursday issued a categorical statement denying accusations by the Philippine military that the Maoist guerillas waging a 40-year old people’s protracted war against the Manila government were abusing children to advance their revolutionary cause.

In a press statement sent to http://www.allvoices.com, NDFP-Eastern Samar spokesperson Fr. Santiago Salas said it is the Armed Foces of the Philippines (AFP) which has concrete cases of abusing children in situations of armed conflict in the Philippines.

Fr. Salas said he issued the statement to correct the malicious news in a national daily which mistated the facts of a United Nations report, making it appear that the communist guerillas were using child combatants, though it was never said so.

“In the said UN report, it is in fact the AFP that is cited for documented cases of abusing children in situations of armed conflict. The NDFP-Eastern Visayas can further shed light on the matter because the 8th Infantry Division has
well-publicized cases on the matter in Eastern Visayas,” Salas stressed.

Fr. Salas said that the Government of the Republic of the Philippines
continues to keep 17-year-old Michelle Adelantar in custody through
the Department of Social Welfare and Development after her illegal
arrest and detention by the 8th Infrantry Division of the Philippine
Army.

“Michelle was abducted and detained last February 3 in San Jose de
Buan, Western Samar by the 34th Infantry Battalion, merely because she
was the child of members of the Communist Party of the Philippines and
the New People’s Army. She still remains in DSWD custody with the
complicity of the 8th ID even though she has civilian relatives who
are ready and willing to take her in and have in fact long demanded
her release,” the NDFP said.

NDFP-Visayas said Col. Armand Rico, 8th ID spokesperson, recently stated over the 8th ID radio program he handles, the reason why the military wants
Michelle detained.

‘Her parents are NPA members, her siblings are NPA members.’ This is unjust, illegitimate, arrogant and mean. This, as well as other statements by Col. Rico, serve as evidence of the AFP’s violations of the rights of children in the armed conflict with the NDFP,” the NDFP statement added.

Fr. Salas recalled that another damning case of the AFP’s child abuse is that of Joel “Dayucdoc” Silvestre, a mentally-handicapped 13-year-old from Brgy. Montalban, Matuguinao, Western Samar who was claimed by the 8th ID to be an NPA child combatant in June 2009.

“The GRP blatantly violated Joel’s rights: soldiers took advantage of
his mental handicap and tricked him so he could be taken into custody.
The military then used Joel as a guide in their military operations;
he was given a firearm and made to identify alleged NPA supporters in
his community who were then interrogated and tortured,” the NDFP-Eastern Visayas added.

The group also said the 8th ID and DSWD also presented Joel to the media, divulging his real name and allowing photos and videos of him to be taken. The NDF said aside from the ordeal they imposed on Joel, other innocent people also suffered and the public victimized with deception because of the
military’s stupid and vicious machinations.

Fr. Salas also called for justice for Michelle, Joel and other
victims of human rights violations under the military’s Oplan Bantay
Laya.

“The NDFP-Eastern Visayas reminds the GRP that it will definitely be brought to
account for violating the rights of Michelle Adelantar and Joel
“Dayucdoc” Silvestre, which are well-documented and with many
witnesses to attest the truth,” it said.

“We demand the immediate release of Michelle Adelantar. We demand
justice for the victims of Oplan Bantay Laya. We demand the arrest,
trial and punishment of the outgoing president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
for widespread and gross human rights violations under Oplan Bantay
Laya and other crimes against the people,” the NDFP-Eastern Visayas added.

Meanwhile, leading presidential candidate Sen. Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III remains hesistant to snowballing demand of peace advocates in Manila to resume the stalled talks between the NDFP and the government peace panel.

In a separate statement, the leftist fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) said the presumptive president elect Aquino was not in poltiical mood to talk peace with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), its armed wing the New People’s Army (NPA) and the NDF.

Pamalakaya chairperson Fernando Hicap believed Sen.Aquino was not really sincere in promoting peace all over the country and he will continue what were prescribed before by powerful military officials in the AFP, which were in accordance with the militaist program of Washington D.C government under the administration of US President Barack Obama. #

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