|(Child warrior recruited by NPA)|
Military and local authorities in Koronadal City in South Cotabato said the communist New People’s Army (NPA) has been recruiting minors to join the revolutionary movement.
During the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) meeting presided by South Cotabato Gov. Daisy Avance Fuentes, Army 1Lt. Cindy Quintos, 27th Infantry Battalion-Civil Military Operations officer, said they have evidence the NPA rebels have been recruiting and training minors in the jungles of T’boli and Lake Sebu municipalities.
Quintos said the communist movement has been targeting members of the Indigenous Communities in Lake Sebu and T’boli, two upland towns in South Cotabato dominated by various tribal groups.
Quintos said the rebels are promising young recruits with educational scholarship, monthly cash and a sack of rice for the recruit’s family if he or she joins the movement.
Quintos did not say how many minors had been recruited.
Citing intelligence reports from security agencies in the province, Gov. Fuentes said the communist rebels have moved and established their presence in some far-flung communities of the province due to intense military operations against them in Davao del Sur and Compostela Valley.
To prevent the recruitment of minors, the military has intensified its peace and development programs.
“Our focus now is on the youth. We have just conducted youth leadership summit in T’boli and now we continue our advocacy through symposium in schools,” Quintos said.
The National Democratic Front of the Philippines, in a statement issued last year, denied it was recruiting child warriors.