The NDFP’s defense of the rights of the Filipino child


Gross violations of child rights in GRP military campaigns

The outlandish and irresponsible definition of the so-called child soldier emboldens the military, police and irregular forces of the GRP to perpetrate the worst violations of the rights of the child when they unleash campaigns of suppression against the people and areas suspected of supporting the revolutionary movement. The aggressors justify their brutal attacks on the children because supposedly these are active members or reserves of the NPA. They direct lethal fire at children whom they subsequently misrepresent as NPA fighters.

GRP military campaigns of suppression often involve the wanton killing of adults and children through bombings, artillery fire, strafing from airplanes and by infantry, looting and burning. After the GRP troops secure control of a village, children who are estimated to be at least 10 years old are at risk of being falsely accused as NPA combatant and being arbitrarily arrested, beaten up, tortured or murdered. In fact, it is an old continuing practice of GRP troops to feel out the shoulders of such children supposedly to find out whether the shoulders are hard enough to indicate frequent carrying of rifles. The GRP troops continue the tradition set by US General Jacob Smith in Samar during the Filipino-American War when he ordered the killing of all Filipino males who were at least 10 years old and supposedly old enough to carry a gun.

Increasingly, the military and police of the GRP abduct the children from suspected NPA-supporting communities and misrepresent them to the mass media as so-called child soldiers of the people's army. Then these children are detained in compounds of the DWSD or in municipal or city jails and the closest relatives are prevented by orders of the military from visiting them and bringing them home. These children detained in such a manner are relatively better known to the public, especially when there is military psywar in the press that these children are NPA combatants. In such cases, human rights organizations can quickly move to get the facts against the false claims of the military. In the worst cases, the children who are detained in military camps and forced to become orderlies and sometimes sex slaves are practically closed to human rights organizations for prompt investigation and documentation, unless the parents and other close relatives and mass organizations of the child or children concerned approach the human rights organizations for assistance.

Whenever they target an area for military suppression, the GRP military, police and irregular forces engage in food blockades, force the people to evacuate or let them stay in their community under the terms of the concentration camp or "strategic hamlet". Under conditions of food blockade or forced mass evacuation, the worst harm is inflicted on so many children. They go hungry, become sick without health care and have no chance to go to school for a long time. When the people are made to stay in their village, the troops occupy the school house as barracks and deprive the children of schooling.

In evacuation centers, the children are mainly the casualties. They are hit the hardest by outbreaks of diseases, like diarrhea, respiratory illness, measles and the like. They are also vulnerable to sexual abuse due to the flimsy accommodations, if any. If they survive, long after suffering hunger and illness, they will bear for a long time in their adulthood or until the end of their lives the invisible scars from their traumatic experience and will have serious difficulties in attaining normalcy or relating to conditions as they grow up.