DUMAGUETE CITY, Negros Oriental, Jan. 18 (PIA) -- The Philippine Army’s 62nd Infantry (Unifier) Battalion has rescued two child soldiers in an encounter with Communist NPA Terrorist (CNTs) on Jan. 15 at Sitio Manlibud, Brgy. Sandayao, Guihulngan City.
The two minors were among the four New People’s Army (NPA) rebels captured during an armed encounter between government soldiers and more than 12 CNTs belonging to Central Negros 1, Komiteng Rehiyon, Central Visayas.
The armed group was allegedly extorting barangay residents while the Philippine Army troops had been supporting the local government unit’s distribution of financial assistance to typhoon-affected areas.
The gun battle resulted in the death of one CNT member while four were captured.
Also recovered were the following: one KG9 with one steel magazine containing 23 live ammunitions, one .45 cal. pistol and backpack, several ammunitions, and other CTG documents.
The rebels withdrew towards the northwest direction of Brgy. Sandayao and left their wounded and dead comrades at the encounter site.
Brigadier Gen. Inocencio Pasaporte, 303rd brigade commander, strongly condemned the NPA’s rampant violation of the children’s human rights and the International Humanitarian Law in recruiting minors to join the armed conflict.
The two minors were utilized as combatants but captured by government troops in the middle of the clash.
"Regardless of how these two children were recruited and of their roles, they were victims whose participation in conflict bears serious implications for their physical and emotional well-being," said Pasaporte.
The recruited youths are commonly subject to abuse, witness death, killing, sexual violence or forced to commit violent acts and possibly suffer serious long-term psychological consequences.
The two minors will be reintegrated into civilian life as essential part of the challenge to help child soldiers rebuild their lives, Pasaporte said.
Republic Act 11188 or Special Protection of Children in Situations of Armed Conflict Act which declares children as “zones of peace,” is aimed at protecting children in situations of armed conflict from all forms of abuse and violence such as recruiting children into government armed forces and other armed groups. (JCT/PIA7 Negros Oriental with reports from CMO Capt. Mervin Rosal, 303rd IB)