By Joey Natividad
NAGA CITY (01-June-12) – Six CAFGU boy soldiers were spared from harm by New People’s Army (NPA) guerrillas as they overran three Army detachments in Agusan del Sur Province, seizing more than 18 firearms, early Wednesday (May 30) morning, in renewed rebel activities.
During the raid, the NPA guerrillas rescued six minors who were conscripted as armed CAFGU members by the AFP, in clear violation of international protocol concerning the use of minors as combatants.
The rebel group, in an emailed statement, condemned the AFP for recruiting minors as armed CAFGU personnel. “The AFP continues to recruit, arm and assign minors in dangerous situations in outright violation and direct contempt of theCARHRIHL, the International Convention on the Rights of the Child and protocols of international humanitarian law.”
Seized from government soldiers were 18 firearms, including one M 16 rifle, three M14 rifles, 12 M-1 Garand rifles, one carbine, one 9mm pistol, several ammo magazines, and bullets. The rebel group, numbering one company size belonged to NPA Front 88 operations command, carried out the raid of three Army detachments in Sitio Tambo, Barangay Binikalan, San Luis, Agusan del Sur that resulted in the rescue of at least six minors ranging from 12 to 16 years old who were conscripted as CAFGU members by the AFP.
National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP-Mindanao) spokesman Jorge Madlos (“Ka Oris”) said a company of NPA Red fighters carried out the raid before 4:30 Wednesday morning, and successfully overran the detachments being manned by CAFGU personnel under the Philippine Army’s 4th ID.
However, the rebel group admitted that one of the minors was hit in the neck after he engaged in a firefight with the NPA fighters. The assistant commanding officer of the CAFGU unit and his civilian girlfriend were also wounded. The commanding officer immediately fled when the firefight started.
The rebel statement said that after extending basic emergency care, the NPA left the six minors to the responsibility of the local community, and urged them to oppose the AFP’s policy of recruitment of minors in accordance with the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and international prohibitions.
“In coordination with international and local children’s rights advocates, the NDFP-Mindanao and other interested parties can initiate a complaint before the CARHRIHL Joint Monitoring Committee, appropriate international bodies and other agencies against the AFP and the Aquino regime for violation of the CARHRIHL and international statutes prohibiting the recruitment, training and arming of children as armed soldiers,” said in the statement.
The statement added: “As the leading authority in Mindanao, the NDFP-Mindanao can receive and prepare all the necessary details concerning the case of the six minors recruited as child soldiers by the AFP, even as the identity and rights of the children against undue public scrutiny and attention are respected.”
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