Friday, March 23, 2012

Three NPAs, including 2 'Child Warriors' captured in Quezon encounter

SAN ANDRES, Quezon – Three NPA bandits were captured in a clash with Army soldiers San Andresn town, Quezon at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 22, a military official said.

 Lt Col Dennis Perez, the Commanding Officer of the 74th Infantry Battalion said that he sent his troops on security patrol after receiving a call from concerned residents.

“A team of my soldiers headed to Pansoy village where the extortion activity by the NPA rebels allegedly took place. There was a brief exchange of fires when my soldiers chanced upon at least 10 rebels in the outskirts of Sitio Tagbakan of the said village,” he said.

Perez added that after the 5-minute firefight, three of the rebels were cornered by the soldiers while the others fled into different directions.

"The three bandits raised their arms to surrender upon seeing that they were completely surrounded. The soldiers confiscated three handguns from them including two Cal 45 pistols and a 9mm pistol," said Perez.

The soldiers promptly brought the rebels to a temporary military outpost for questioning. Initial findings revealed that two of the three rebels are minors.

They were identified by their aliases Ka Rustom, 17, and Ka Jerome, 16, who both voluntarily revealed their ages and identities.

The other rebel identified himself as Elmer Desoyo, a.k.a. Jeric, 18.

Perez also said that he had promptly contacted the parents of the rebels as well as the local police for the inquest proceedings.

He also said that he had directed his subordinates to check the records of the local registrar regarding the veracity of the ages of the captured rebels, so that he can filed appropriate charges against the child recruiters. 

"Once I can confirm through the available public documents that they are indeed minors as the two rebels claimed, I will immediately file a criminal case against Arman Albarillo a.k.a. Ka Jun, the leader of the Komiteng Sangay sa Platun 'Berto' who recruited these minors as 'child warriors', "said Perez.

The recruitment of 'child warriors' is a criminal offense as provided by Republic Act 7610 which was promulgated on June 17, 1992.

Article X, Section 22 of the said law provides that“Children shall not be recruited to become members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines of its civilian units or other armed groups, nor be allowed to take part in the fighting, or used as guides, couriers, or spies”.

The same law defined “children” as “person below eighteen (18) years of age or those over but are unable to fully take care of themselves or protect themselves from abuse, neglect, cruelty, exploitation or discrimination because of a physical or mental disability or condition”.

These provisions are all in accord to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, UN World Youth Report 2003 and the Geneva Conventions on special protection of children in armed conflicts.

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