Nangako ang Commission on Human Rights (CHR) na itutuloy nila ang kanilang imbestigasyon tungkol sa umano’y pangre-recruit ng mga kabataan bilang sundalo sa mga lugar na may armed conflict.
Pahayag ito ni CHR spokesperson Jacqueline Ann de Guia kasabay ng selebrasyon ng International Day against the Use of Child Soldiers o ang Red Hand Day.
Ayon kay De Guia, nakapanlulumo na nagpapatuloy pa rin ang kalakaran na paggamit ng mga kabataan sa digmaan.
“The trend is a cause for concern as children are continuously victimized for different reasons. Some are forced and abducted, while others are deceived or made to believe that joining an armed group is a chance for a better life,” saad ni De Guia.
“In the field, children in armed conflicts also fulfill different roles—on the frontlines, acting as spies, lookouts, messengers, couriers, or running errands. Due to the involvement of children in armed conflict, most of them end up with physical disabilities, while others die or are seriously injured in crossfires,” dagdag nito.
Iginiit ni De Guia na ito ay lantarang paglabag sa International Humanitarian Law, na nagbabawal sa pag-recruit at paggamit ng mga kabataan sa armadong labanan at karahasan.
“In the Philippines, CHR has monitored and is continuously investigating cases of children in situations of armed conflict,” ani De Guia.
“We have noted cases allegedly perpetrated by the New People’s Army where children are being harmed, killed, or seriously injured in armed battles, among others. We strongly condemn these acts,” pahayag nito.
Kasabay nito, nanawagan din ang opisyal sa gobyerno na paigtingin pa ang mga hakbang sa pagpapatupad ng mga batas upang mapangalagaan ang mga bata laban dito.
Ilan din aniya sa mga batas na ito ay ang Republic Act No. 7610 o ang Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act; RA 9851 o Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide, and Other Crimes Against Humanity; at RA 11188 or the Special Protection of Children in Situations of Armed Conflict Act.
“In the end, while there is a higher obligation from the government to ensure respect and protection of everyone’s rights, groups and individuals also bear the duty to protect them at all times and in all situations,” anang opisyal.
“CHR will continue to rally for this cause and will continue to investigate cases of child soldiers—may these allegations come from the government or rebel groups—in line with our duty as an independent national human rights institution,” sabi ni De Guia.