INTERIOR and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año described as a blatant lie the claims of Bayan Muna Representative Satur Ocampo that the Communist Party of the Philippine (CPP), New People’s Army (NPA) and the National Democratic Front (NDF) are not recruiting minors to fight against the national government.
A former top military man, Año said the practice has been going on for decades already which can be proven by the cases filed against the Reds.
“Satur Ocampo’s denial of the occurrence of illegal recruitment of minors by the CPP/NPA/NDF is a blatant lie. In fact it has been going on for decades,” the DILG chief said.
He cited data from the Philippine National Police which showed five cases were filed this year against the CPP/NPA/NDF for violating the Child Abuse Law and child trafficking.
Five similar cases were also filed in court in 2017, while three were filed in 2016.
According to Año, the CPP/NPA/NDF is poisoning the minds of the youth and instigating them to take up arms against the government, teaching them how to use a gun, how to fight in armed combat and how to gain people’s sympathy.
The communists also teach the innocent ones to sing a different version of the national anthem and to join rallies calling to overthrow the government.
“Satur Ocampo and company have intensified their recruitment of children because it is easier to poison young minds and because they need to fill up the ranks of the NPA which has been decimated by the growing number of rebel surrenders,” he added.
In July this year, five minors from the Manobo tribe in Bukidnon surrendered in Northern Luzon due to harsh living conditions of NPA fighters.
A 15-year-old NPA combatant was killed during a clash between government troops and communist terrorist rebels in Sitio Bayongon, Barangay Astorga in Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur on April 21, 2018.
Two boys and one girl, both NPA regulars, were killed in an encounter between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the NPA in Compostela Valley on July 12 last year.
Año also cited the surrender of an 11-year-old NPA combatant to the Philippine Army in Barangay Camansa, Asuncion town in Davao del Norte in 2015.
Two child warriors, along with four women, also said they had suffered in the jungles of Zamboanga del Sur before they surrendered to the Philippine Army.
In May 2018, the United Nations (UN) reported to have verified the recruitment and use of 30 children by armed groups, six of which have been linked with the NPA.
“The evidence against CPP/NPA/NDF recruitment of young children is incontrovertible. In fact, it has been reported in the media — though sparingly. Despite being against local and international law, the communist terrorists continue to hypnotize our children because it is easy to recruit the innocent,” he said.
Año likewise defended the PNP in its decision to arrest Ocampo, Castro and others in Davao Del Norte.
“We have received the reports of former Salugpongan students and teachers claiming that the school has been indoctrinating them against the government and forcing them to join rallies,” he said.
In affidavits, former students and volunteer teachers of the Salugpongan Learning Center in Talaingod claimed that the school has been training students as young as kindergartners on the use firearms.
They also claimed that minors were being brought into NPA encampments and were prohibited from communicating with their parents while they were studying in Salugpongan.
Incidents of sexual abuse of children were also reported in the affidavits.
Last week, Ocampo, ACT Party-list Rep. France Castro and several others were arrested at a military checkpoint in Talaingod Municipality for kidnapping and illegally transporting 14 minors without parental consent.