MANILA — Senator Nancy Binay on Monday called on the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Marawi City officials and residents, and the media to confirm the reported use of child warriors as spies, messengers, or armed fighters by the Maute group.
Binay made this request after a television report showed that a policeman involved in the clearing operations in Marawi City claimed that children aged 10 to 16 years old were reportedly carrying baby armalites and taking part in ambushes.
“The reported participation of children in the ongoing conflict in Marawi is seriously alarming. I’m asking the AFP, local officials, residents, and the media to confirm the presence of child warriors in Marawi,” Binay said in a statement.
Binay said that it was “inhumane and morally unacceptable” to expose children to extreme violence and urged the military to “do everything” to spare the children.
She also urged the military and police to immediately turn over to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) any child warrior that they can capture or intercept.
“If indeed the reports are true, I appeal to the military to do everything to spare the children. They are not combatants nor should they be treated as rebels. They are victims of violence and wrong ideologies. It is our moral duty to save them from the horrors of war,” she added.
Citing the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict, Binay said that there is an obligation to prevent those who have not reached 18 years old from taking part in hostilities.
She added that under the International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention 182, recruiting child warriors is one of the worst forms of child labor.
In the 16th Congress, Binay filed Senate Resolution number 504 which urged the Senate to study the United Nations’ Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, which came into force in 2002.
The measure was aimed at further strengthening and improving legislation involving children’s rights. ANP/PNA-northboundasia.com