An anti-communist group appealed on November 1, 2020, for increased protection of children against illegal recruitment activities made by the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) and its allied organizations.
Remy Rosadio, chair of the League of Parents of the Philippines (LPP), made this call during the commencement of the National Children’s Month, as he expressed hope that more parents would be informed of the recruitment activities done by communist terrorist groups and their front organizations.
“We have to work with parents to make sure our children will live a happy life because they deserve a crime-free society and live in a family-oriented and harmonious environment,” Rosadio said.
The LPP and the other anti-communist groups, along with parents of students who were reportedly recruited by militant groups, have denounced the alleged recruitment of the youth into the communist armed movement.
Children’s right to protection
The Commission on Human Rights (CHR), meanwhile, called for unity to protect children against any harm.
CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said children should be provided with services that protect and rescue them from abuses and exploitation, saying these services must be more accessible and responsive.
“Raising awareness in communities can be a proactive way to protect children so individuals can be partners in preventing and reporting abuses within their locality and neighborhood,” de Guia said.
She said children’s welfare and their best interest are even more crucial amid the raging pandemic.
“Children may not be as vulnerable to Covid-19 as other age groups but they equally suffer from the secondary effects and the measures taken to combat the virus,” de Guia said.
“Many children have suffered from cruel and degrading measures for violating curfew rules and protocols particularly during the beginning of the quarantine,” she added.
De Guia said an increase in the cases of online sexual exploitation and domestic abuse of children due to the socio-economic effects of the pandemic has been observed.
The mental health and normal development of children are also greatly affected, de Guia said, as they adjust to the new normal.
“It is our duty to create a positive environment for children despite these challenging times,” de Guia said. “Through our collective effort, let us foster a nurturing environment where the rights of all children are protected and their needs are provided to enable them to hope, dream, and grow amid the disruption brought on by the pandemic.”
Protection against recruitment
On the other hand, LPP spokesperson Arlene Escalante said protecting children from all forms of harm also includes protecting them against communist terrorist’s deceptive recruitment schemes.
“Atty. De Guia aptly mentioned that we should be united in protecting children from all harm — this should include protecting them from the exploitation of the CPP-NPA-NDF who snatch them from the love and care of family, and brainwash their innocent and vulnerable minds, and arm them with guns and grenades, to fight against the government as child warriors,” Escalante added.
Escalante said it has been observed that the pandemic somehow “constrained the children’s right to play, get a proper education and to many, even access to nutrition and proper health services.”
“We agree with CHR in stating that parents and the government must together pay attention to children’s rights during this crisis. While they may be locked down at home, their rights shouldn’t be,” Escalante said.
“We have the utmost responsibility to make sure they are well taken care of,” she added.
However, Escalante said children should be protected against exposure to the culture of violence and atrocities.
People should be aware that illegal recruitment of minors into the armed movement is happening in the country, which is a clear violation of children’s rights, according to Escalante.
“A month reminding us of children’s rights is the opportune time to gather all forces to rescue all those children from the evil clasp of those terrorists. I know they’re crying out, even in their sleep, for us to come and help them,” she said. (Lade Jean Kabagani, PNA)