Soldiers in Northern Samar try to use children for mil ops –MAKIBAKA-EV

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The regional chapter of Makabayang Kilusan ng Bagong Kababaihan (MAKIBAKA-EV) called the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police as “morally depraved and condemnable,” after receiving reports from local chapters in Norther Samar saying that state troops have been attempting to manipulate children and use them in their counterinsurgency operations in the barrios.

Local members have reported that almost all barrios in Las Navas-Catubig have been occupied by soldiers and the PNP-Special Action Force, who bribe children to “spy” on barrio folk who are red-tagged as members or supporters of the New People’s Army.

“Soldiers offer candies, junk food, cash, toys and the like to hoodwink children to provide information regarding their targets. Only the morally-depraved, nefarious creatures in the AFP-PNP are capable of whipping up such schemes of involving children in military operations, ” Lorena Banaag, spokesperson of MAKIBAKA-EV, said.

She added that in many occasions, troops of AFP-PNP patrol within and around communities deliberately surround themselves with children to use them as human shields. They also camp inside private residents and public utilities such as schools, health centers, barangay halls, multipurpose buildings and other civilian structures which are frequented by children.

“Fascists know too well that revolutionary forces strictly adhere to the protection of civilians, especially women and children. They exploit children’s vulnerabilities to shield them from the NPA’s tactical offensives.

“Such abuses add to their long list of chidren’s rights violations which include the brutal killing of two minors working in their farms in Barangay Roxas, Catubig last February,” Banaag added.

Militarization as well as terrorist attacks such as artillery shelling interrupt the relatively peaceful lives of the children in the said towns. Last November, classes in the local high school in Barangay San Miguel, Las Navas were disrupted after the 20th IB shelled nearby farmlands and the National Task Force-Elcac conducted psy-war programs in the school building. After the shelling, some teachers said they were afraid to deliver modules to their students in the barrios.

Military presence also disrupts the livelihood of parents of the children, whom are prevented by soldiers from tending their farms and thus suffer ever worsening economic conditions, especially Northern Samar.

Banaag reiterated that these are gross violations of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law, as well as other conventions on the conduct of war which protect children from the atrocities of armed conflict.

“Revolutionary women in Eastern Visayas condemn these attacks by state forces against children. We call on the people, especially victims of state violence and groups advocating the protection of women and children, to condemn these abuses and help expose the crimes committed by the AFP-PNP in the countryside.

“They must also call for the military and police to pull out in the barrios and to stop their fascist crimes against the people, especially innocent children who are the hope of our motherland,” Banaag ended. #

Soldiers in Northern Samar try to use children for mil ops --MAKIBAKA-EV
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