79th IB arrests 2 minors in Negros Occidental and falsely claims them as Red fighters

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The Human Rights Advocates in Negros (HRAN) condemned the elements of the 79th IB and 1st Negros Occidental Provincial Mobile Force Company for the arrest of siblings aged 16 and 17 in Sityo Humayan, Barangay Pinowayan, Don Salvador Benedicto on April 25. The 79th IB is now parading the two as arrested “young fighters” of the New People’s Army (NPA). An elderly relative was arrested alongside the two. (For the children’s welfare, their names are withheld.)

HRAN called the AFP statement as “empty lies.” The group said their investigation showed that the three individuals arrested by the soldiers and police were all ordinary farmers in the community. The 79th IB also falsely claimed having confiscated weapons and ammunition during the arrest.

The group believes that the military and police are spreading lies to get “bounty money” from the Marcos regime for its purportedly successful operations against the NPA. The 79th IB declared that it had “dismantled” the guerrilla front of the people’s army in Northern Negros as of July 2021.

‘There are no child warriors’

Ka Cecil Estrella, spokesperson of the NPA-Northern Negros (Roselyn Pelle Command), the unit that covers the said area, denied the allegation that it recruits young fighters to the people’s army. She said the NPA strictly adheres to the rules of the army and the policies of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) that set the minimum age for joining the NPA.

In 1988, the Party’s Political Bureau adopted a ban on the recruitment of children under the age of 18 as regular members or armed fighters of the NPA’s combat units. It was approved by the Party leadership in accordance with existing international humanitarian laws. This amended the section in the Constitution of the New People’s Army regarding the minimum age.

As part of the protection of children’s rights, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines also released the Declaration and Program of Action for the Rights, Protection and Welfare of Children, which was formally adopted by the NDFP National Council on April 24, 2012.

AB: 79th IB arrests 2 minors in Negros Occidental and falsely claims them as Red fighters