On news reports of alleged use of child soldiers by the NPA

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines Human Rights Monitoring Committee (NDFP-MC) today castigated Ms. Emmylou Talino-Mendoza, representative from North Cotabato in the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) congress, for blatant ignorance on the issue of the alleged use of child soldiers by the New People’s Army (NPA). It also accused Ms. Mendoza of being a mouthpiece for the lies of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

The NDFP-MC through its chairman Fidel V. Agcaoili was reacting to the previous statement of Ms. Talino-Mendoza to the media where she accused the NPA and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) of allegedly recruiting child soldiers.

“Ms. Talino-Mendoza would do well to read the ‘NDFP’s Defense of the Rights of the Filipino Child’ where the revolutionary movement’s position on the rights of the Filipino child is stated. Since 1988, ahead of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the NPA have already adopted the minimum age of 18 for recruitment as combatants in the NPA,” Agcaoili said. “The strict implementation of this policy has been proven in a 2007 UNICEF-commissioned study in eight communities in eight provinces nationwide of the country. Moreover, the 24 April 2008 report of the UN Security Council has pointed to the GRP security and armed forces as the number one violator of the rights of children in armed conflict,” Agcaoili added.

“In mouthing the GRP propaganda, Ms. Talino-Mendoza seeks to justify the GRP policy of manufacturing so-called cases of child soldiers by the NPA, as in the case of Grecil Buya in Compostela Valley on 31 March 2007, in order to cover up and condone the rampant violations of the human rights of children by the AFP, Philippine National Police (PNP) and paramilitary units, and provide the latter with the license to kill, maim, arrest, torture, detain and wantonly abuse the rights of children in military operations against communities suspected to be influenced or under the control of the NPA,” Agcaoili said.

The NDFP-MC chairman in the meantime scored a report which came out in the Philippine Star (Ex-child fighter: NPA brainwashed me by James Mananghaya, Thursday, November 13, 2008) wherein a certain Marife Binosa supposedly accused the NPA of brainwashing her as a child and threatening to torture her and her husband for allegedly leaving the revolutionary movement.

“If there is any truth to her accusations, Marife is welcome to file a complaint against the NDFP through the Joint Monitoring Committee. It would be her chance to substantiate her allegations. Offhand, I can say that her accusations are false because, by making another ridiculous charge that the NPA supposedly molests female recruits, she obviously has not been with the NPA. She does not even know that the NPA is a well-disciplined and principled army of the people. And the writer of the report whom, it has come to our attention is closely connected with the military, has exposed himself as a paid hack of the AFP,” Agcaoili said.

Rising to a higher level of criticism, Agcaoili declared that imperialist and local reactionary forces are systematically slandering the NDFP and other national liberation movements as child abusers in order to demonize them. He added, “It is correct and appropriate for the NDFP to declare that the oppression and exploitation of more than 90 per cent of Filipino children, together with their worker and peasant parents, constitute a casus belli, a just cause of people's war. This fact should not be obscured by the fabrications of imperialist and reactionary propaganda.”

Agcaoili said further, “Whenever armed resistance by the people arises because of intolerable oppression and exploitation, the reactionary armed forces victimize the children through brutal military operations against entire communities. They engage in aerial bombardments, artillery fire and machine gun strafing. They take over the public school houses as barracks. They force the people to evacuate and grab the land for the high bureaucrats and military officers and foreign corporations. The children suffer the most intimidation, deprivations and even death in evacuation centers and military encampments.”