SOPC to the fascist AFP: Stop Using Children for Your Dirty War Tactics

Coni Ledesma, Head of the NDFP Special Office for the Protection of Children
Statement on the AFP arresting and claiming two minors as “NPA child soldiers” in Negros Occidental

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines’ Special Office for the Protection of Children (NDFP – SOPC) strongly condemns the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) blatant lies and brazen display of two minors, Adonis Alforque, 16 and Jonidel Alforque, 17, they claimed are members of the New People’s Army (NPA) on 25 April 2024 in Sitio Humayan, Barangay Pinowayan, Don Salvador Benedicto, Negros Occidental. The two minors were paraded by the AFP’s 79th Infantry Battalion (79th IB) in the area and were presented to the media as “NPA child soldiers.” However, the local NPA command and the community where they live have attested that they are civilians and residents of the area.

The AFP claiming that the NPA recruits child soldiers is a tired and worn-out tale, and has long been refuted by the NPA’s unsullied record of strongly adhering to the CPP’s strict policy of non-recruitment of persons below 18 years of age. This policy is also in keeping with the Basic Rules of the NPA and International Humanitarian Law.

The AFP’s use of children is part of their dirty war tactics meant to smear the NPA and the revolutionary movement and is in fact a violation of IHL. By mislabeling children as “child soldiers,” the AFP effectively blurs the distinction between combatants and civilians under the Geneva Conventions governing the rules of war.

The case of the Alforque siblings is just one of the many incidents of children-related grave violations of human rights and IHL perpetrated by the AFP under the Duterte and Marcos Jr. regimes.

In June last year, in the guise of supposed encounters with the NPA, AFP troops murdered 17-year-old Rey Almario Belan of Masbate and massacred the Fausto children (aged 12 and 13) and their parents in Negros Occidental. In July 2022, they killed a minor who they falsely claimed as a Red fighter, and a 9-year-old child in Oriental Mindoro and Batangas, respectively.

The AFP has also engaged in kidnapping babies and keeping them hostage, including those still in the womb. In August 2022, Cherilyn Rebita, a pregnant Red fighter on medical leave was seven months pregnant when she was abducted. Rebita gave birth while in captivity, after which her newborn was also held hostage. In November 2022, two pregnant Red fighters on medical leave, Aurily Havana and Jennifer Binungkasan, were abducted in Butuan City and kept hostage in an undisclosed location.

Meanwhile, baby Marx, who was two months old in January 2021 fell victim to the AFP’s terrorist black operations when they abducted him from his caregivers. Baby Marx was put under the government’s custody and tight military guard to force his Red fighter parents to surrender.

The SOPC strongly denounces the AFP and the Duterte and Marcos Jr. regimes’ dirty war tactics and calls on the public and the international community to condemn the AFP for their reprehensible disregard of international humanitarian law and protections afforded to children in the context of the ongoing civil war.

AFP, keep your bloody hands off Filipino children! ###