The Deception and Exploitation of Minors by the CPP-NPA-NDF
Philippines : A war on semantics had been waged by the front organizations of the CPP-NPA-NDF regarding Children Involved in Armed Conflicts. They are contented with just twisting the truth and to play with words. For the truth of the matter, the issue is all about children recruited by the Communist front organizations and the New People’s Army and used as frontliners and in any other capacity, armed or unarmed.
These children had been the unwitting pawns in the communist revolution that the CPP-NPA-NDF had been waging for more than forty years now. Purposely this war on semantics is being done to mislead the public from the real issues at hand and to stage an emotional drama in time for the arrival and visit to the country of the United Nations Secretary General Special Representative for Children and Armed conflict.
In any conflict or war, it is indeed true, that the children are the most harrowing victims. The sad part of this is that some of the children got involved directly or indirectly in armed conflicts and not just plainly getting caught in the crossfire between the soldiers and the armed communist rebel group, the NPA. The issue on hand here is how did these children got involved in the armed conflict ?
The front organizations of the CPP/NPA are dwelling on the semantic issue for the reading masses to overlook the whole point that they are the ones exploiting and using the children for their own vested and greedy interests. Whatever the label of the children is, is not the issue, the question here and the most pressing concern is, why on earth that the children get involved and are part of the NPA’s bloody war in the first place ?
The Optional Protocol on children in armed conflicts enjoins all armed groups to ensure that those “under the age of 18 do not take a direct part in hostilities.” Furthermore, the Convention on the Rights of Child, in which the Philippine Government is also a signatory, recognizes and respects the right of the child to education, to enjoy his or her own culture … religion or … language.”, protection from economic exploitation ... from [hazardous] work [and] all other forms of exploitation.”, to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child.” Furthermore it states that childhood itself is a right, worthy of protection in every nation.
Unfortunately, these are also the very same rights that the CPP/NPA/NDF blatantly violates. It is a given fact that the child’s decision making is very immature, which puts a child in a situation where he or she can easily be swayed and influenced by family and peer pressure and the likes. The moment that the CPP/NPA/NDF front organization deceives and recruits the child they are already violating his/her rights. Children are being recruited unlawfully by these front organizations to eventually join the NPA to participate in their bloody revolution as soldiers, messengers, spies, porters, cooks, and the most saddening as sex slaves. Those pressed into combat are often forced to the front lines or sent into minefields ahead of older troops.
The Convention of the Rights of the Child which was ratified by 185 countries in December 31, 1995 enshrined four principles which highlights the four basic rights of a child, and which must be respected and implemented. To have a total glimpse of the violations perpetrated by the CPP-NPA-NDF, let me share with you my point of arguments as a former child involved in armed conflict or CIAC. I will focus on the rights of the children which were intentionally and deliberately violated by the CPP-NPA-NDF. And to give credence and substance to my point of view let me also incorporate and supplement my arguments with my real life experienced in the mountains, fighting a war that I did not, could not and will never understand.
“Every child has the inherent right to life”. . . the very basic rights that the NPA flagrantly steals not only from every child, but every woman, mother and father that they we did have a life, that’s true, this is not debatable. . . unfortunately the life that we had in the mountains as members of a fighting unit of the NPA was bone-jarring, risky, hazardous and dangerous.
Bone-jarring because of the endless days and nights that we had to walked, encumbered with a heavy load on our backs, not to mention the perilous terrain that we traversed. Risky . . . because of the uncertainty of what lies ahead of us . . . the question if we are going to crossed path with soldiers who are on a regular combat security patrol ? Hazardous . . . because of the natural elements in the mountains, the deadly animals, the ravines, the cliffs, the gorges that abounds the boondocks of Albay and Sorsogon.
“Every child has the right to a name and nationality from birth”. . . the name. . . was robbed from the students who took the oath as candidate members of the student sector’s underground movement. From the day that we took the oath, we were no longer who we are, from Agnes I was given the name of Ka Tina, Ka Yolly and Ka George. I had to conditioned my mind that I was no longer the obedient and God-fearing Agnes but I was the thick-skinned freedom fighter Ka Tina, Yolly and George. “The right of the child to be protected from physical or mental harm and neglect, including sexual abuse or exploitation”. . . as an NPA “child soldier” we were always on harm’s way. The never ending back breaking trek during tactical offensives, the nerve racking fear of another chance encounter with the soldiers made us all CIAC a nervous wreck.
These are only some of our rights which were brazenly violated by the front organizations we joined, in my case the LFS or League of Filipino Students. Rights which should and must be protected at all cost but sad to say exploited and abused by the New people’s Army.