Sunday, July 04, 2010

NPA accuses Philippine military of recruiting minors to fight rebels

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / July 4, 2010) – The communist New People’s Army rebels have accused the Philippine military of continuously recruiting minors to fight insurgents in Mindanao.

The NPA said it arrested a 17-year old militia who was recruited by government soldiers to fight rebel forces in Compostela Valley province.

“The cat is finally out of the bag. Now it can be said without any shade of public doubt. That in its failed and defeated Operation Plan Bantay Laya II, the 10th Infantry Division of the Armed Forces of the Philippines recruits and arms minors as combat pawns in its war against the people and the revolutionary forces. That what it accuses the people's army of doing turns out to be a matter of official policy in its ranks, long practiced in their counter-revolutionary theater,” said Rigoberto Sanchez, a spokesman for the NPA’s Merardo Arce Command.

Oplan Bantay Laya refers to the codename of the government’s anti-insurgency operations in the country.

Sanchez said the militia, Juve Latiban, who is a member of the Civilian Auxiliary Force Geographical Unit of the Philippine Army, was arrested at a rebel checkpoint last month.

“Born on October 7, 1992, Juve Latiban was not even 16 years old when recruited in October 2008 by Private First Class Alvin Latiban of Upper Ulip (village) in Monkayo town in Compostela Valley.”

“Together with his batch mates that included 18 other minors, they underwent 45-day training at the 1001st Infantry Brigade headquarters in Tuburan (village) in Mawab town in Compostela Valley,” Sanchez said, quoting from information provided by the arrested militia.

He said the militia also told the NPA that they were provided fake birth certificates which stated they were already 18 years old when recruited by the military as militias.

“Juve Latiban attested that he and the 18 other minors in his batch were given fake birth certificates by Private First Class Latiban. His own bogus birth certificate showed that he was born on 1990 instead of the factual 1992 so that it would appear that he was already 18 at the time of his training.”

“He confessed that the 72nd Infantry Battalion trainers knew their actual ages. His first assignment was at the Philippine Army detachment in Upper Ulip in Monkayo. Private First Class Latiban is now assigned in the 10th Infantry Division,” Sanchez said.

The NPA said the militia is only temporarily under custody and would be released as soon as government troops pull out from areas where rebel forces are actively operating in the province.

Aside from Latiban, rebel forces are also holding Sergeant Bienvenido Arguelles who was seized June 19 in the village of Uper Ulip in Compostela Valley’s Monkayo town.

The rebels are fighting for decades now for the establishment of a Maoist state in the country. (Mindanao Examiner)

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