PASIG CITY, Philippines, Nov. 26 -- The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Thursday reported that a total of 548 minors have been employed by Communist Terrorist Groups (CTGs) in armed conflict since 2010.
Data collected by the AFP Human Rights Office (HRO) from field units covering children involved in armed conflict provided factual and verifiable basis for the report.
The figures are expected to rise, as AFP units continue their inquiry and tender reports on the activities of non-state armed groups.
The AFPHRO submitted to the Commission on Human Rights for appropriate action, a report citing evidence of the New People's Army's recruitment of children and involving them in armed conflict.
Colonel Joel Alejandro Nacnac, the AFPHRO Chief, stated that the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Front's (CPP-NPA-NDF) manipulation of minors has shown a nationwide pattern of organized, continuing, and systematic scheme of misuse and abuse of children.
"The rebel group has been repeatedly using minors to actively participate in hostilities to advance their struggle. They violate the rights of the children and subject them to situations that could cost them their lives. These unlawful activities constitute violation of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law as well as local laws," Nacnac said.
As part of its mandate, the AFPHRO says it continues to monitor Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law violations committed by non-state armed groups. Their rebellion is the longest ongoing-armed conflict in the Philippines with armed components committing violent activities through the use of guerilla tactics for more than 50 years.
The AFP Chief of Staff, General Gilbert Gapay lauded the efforts of the AFPHRO for continuously exposing the CTGs for their persistent disregard of human rights and use of children in their illegal activities.
"We hope that the Commission on Human Rights will take immediate action on the report submitted by the AFP Human Rights Office. It is our fervent desire to put an end to the immoral and unlawful utilization of our youth by the CPP-NPA-NDF to advance their armed struggle without regard to their well-being," Gapay said. (PIA NCR)