Children are fair game in psywar theatrics of Armed Forces of the Philippines

By Ka Sandawa
Spokesperson, Zenaida Beron Command
Front 54 Operations Command
NPA-Southern Mindanao

On local TV Tuesday, 14 September, Lt. Col. Medel Aguilar of the 10th Infantry Division of the Armed Forces of the Philippines presented to the social welfare department of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines a 17-year old so-called would-be recruit of the New People's Army claiming that the minor escaped from the people's army.

Aguilar's latest trick is his idea of getting back at the NPA for the whipping that the 84th Infantry Battalion-AFP under Lt. Col. Gabriel Viray took following their disastrous offensive operations in the Davao hinterlands against the people's army.

Last 10 September, Lt. Col. Viray's troops suffered nine casualties (4 killed, 5 wounded) in a supposed AFP combat operation against the New People's Army in the boundary between Davao City and Davao del Sur. Reeling from the NPA's lethal counter-attack, Aguilar and Viray then concocted a story out of a beaten script about NPA children recruits and presented the minor "Rose" as living proof of the preposterous accusation.

The NPA has no minor combatants in its ranks. It strictly adheres to the principles and instruments of the international humanitarian and human rights law, and as reiterated in the Communist Party of the Philippines Executive Committee's 1999 document "Memorandum on the Minimum Age Recruitment for NPA fighters."

Expect the 10th ID-AFP's Lt. Col. Aguilar to use every psywar gimmick from his bagful of fascist tricks.

Having failed miserably to extinguish the revolutionary forces, the 10th ID-AFP is now engaged in a full-scale psywar and publicity stunt, among others, one that capitalizes on minors as NPA surrenderees.

The AFP's grandstanding of turning over the 17-year old to GRP civilian agencies is hypocritical in the light of the continuing violation of the military against minors.

The AFP is notorious in killing children and misrepresenting them as armed fighters of the NPA (like the case of Grecil Buya in New Bataan, Compostela Valley), the AFP recruitment of minors to the paramilitary as further exposed in the capture of a Cafgu minor in Monkayo, Compostela Valley; and using Lumad minors to beef up its detachments as in the AFP detachments in Paquibato, Davao City.