Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año on Tuesday branded former Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo as a liar over the latter’s claims that the New People’s Army (NPA) is against the recruitment of child warriors.
“It’s a blatant lie, the truth is the recruitment of minors as fighters by the NPA has been ongoing for decades,” Año said.
He was reacting to a statement of Ocampo who said in a TV interview that as a rule the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) is against the recruitment of minors, “so definitely that could not be part of the program of the NPA.”
Año added the Philippine National Police in fact has filed this year five cases against the CPP-NPA-NDF for violating laws on child abuse and trafficking in persons.
The DILG secretary also noted that five similar cases have also been filed in court in 2017 while three cases were filed in 2016.
“The CPP-NPA-NDF has intensified the recruitment of minors since it is easier to poison their young minds and because they need to fill up their ranks which have been slashed due to the growing number of rebel surrenderers,” Año stressed.
He likewise said the communists are poisoning the minds of the youth to take up arms against the government.
“They teach the innocent how to use a gun, how to fight in armed combat, how to gain people’s sympathy, to sing a different version of the National Anthem and to join rallies calling for the overthrow of government,” Año added.
Año argued pieces of evidence against Ocampo’s claim are “incontrovertible,” saying some were even reported in the media.
The DILG chief cited as example an incident where a 15-year-old NPA child combatant was killed in a clash between government troops and communist rebels in Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur in April this year.
Also, two boys and a girl were killed in an encounter between the military and the NPA in Compostela Valley in July 2017.
In Another incident, Año said an 11-year-old NPA child fighter surrendered to the Philippine Army in Asuncion, Davao del Norte in 2015.
“Two child warriors, along with four women, also surrendered to government authorities in Zamboanga del Sur,” Año said.