7 February 2014
CWC: Time to Seriously Address Issue of Child Soldiers in the Country
With the successful signing of the peace negotiations with the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), we must now have serious efforts to address the practice of using children as combatants in armed conflict. This is amid the efforts to neutralize other armed groups in Mindanao.
Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC) Executive Director Brenda S. Vigo made this appeal as evidences of the wide use of children as soldiers again surfaced in last week’s operations of the military against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).
“This is unacceptable, as this violates the rights of children, and against international laws”, she said.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) reported that photographs of children carrying rifles were among the items left as it overran the camps of the BIFF in Mindanao. The military launched this offensive two days after the government concluded peace talks with the main Muslim rebel group, the MILF. The AFP also reported that three child combatants where among the 53 BIFF fighter killed during the military offensive.
A new legal mechanism that now addresses children in armed conflict is now in place. President Aquino signed on Aug. 2, 2013, Executive Order 138 which establishes the Monitoring, Reporting and Response System (MRRS) for Grave Child Rights Violations in Situations of Armed Conflict. The six violations include: 1) killing and maiming of children; 2) recruitment and use of children; 3) attack on schools and hospitals; 4) abduction of children; 5) rape and other grave sexual violence against children; and 6) denial of humanitarian access.
This amended the Executive Order 56 of 2001 which adopted the Comprehensive Framework for children in Armed Conflict. The new MRRS aims to protect children in situations of armed conflict by preventing the occurrence of grave child rights violations, and ensuring appropriate and timely response in the event of such violations.
It also generates data and information to guide the MRRS inter-agency team composed of the AFP, the Philippine National Police (PNP), DILG, DepEd, DFA, DOJ, CHR, Presidential Human Rights Committee (PHRC), Presidential Management Staff (PMS), the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), and the CWC which takes the lead in implementing the MRRS.
DSWD Secretary Corazon J. Soliman, who is also CWC chair said: “We want that children are victimized no more in this condemnable manner by adults. We must put an end to the recruitment of children as warriors.”
For further inquiries, please contact:
Mr. Elino L. Bardillon/Ms. Aiza A. Cabrera
Tel. No. 781-1039 local 1005/2003