The National Democratic Front of the Philippines condemned the Armed Forces of the Philippines for grave violations of children’s rights, as revealed in a special report of the Communist Party of the Philippines released on 20 November.

The report, Dirty War Against Children, documents how child rights violations intensified in 2020 and 2021 during the Covid-19 related lockdowns. It said that security forces of the Manila government, took advantage of the pandemic to occupy communities and launch widescale and intensive military operations.

“Children have been victims of the civil war between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the New People's Army from the start of the civil war. This is the first time that a report focuses on children and the effects of the civil war on them,” said Coni Ledesma, Head of the NDFP Special Office for the Protection of Children.

According to Ledesma, the AFP is responsible for various cases “…where children have been threatened, arrested, forced to surrender, sexually abused, killed and accused of being child soldiers.  Children have also been forced to stop schooling and to leave their homes together with their parents because of militarization in their areas.

“There have also been cases of babies and young children snatched from their homes, hostaged, and so-called ‘rescued’ to force their parents to surrender because they are suspected to be members of the New People's Army.”

The latest case reported involve the killing of Everly Kee Jacolbe, 16, when the AFP 62nd Infantry Battalion attacked the hut where she and her pregnant mother lived in Trinidad village, Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental. In another incident, the AFP 59th Infantry Battalion shot Kyllene Casao, 9, in Guinhawa village, Taysan town, in Batangas province, when she and her father were on their way home. The report states that “…in both cases, the AFP falsely claimed that the children together with their elders were killed in encounters between the AFP and NPA.”

In Catubig town, Northern Samar, on 8 February 2022, two children aged 9 and 12, were shot by troops of the AFP 8th Infantry Division. The children were with a group of farmers who the AFP troops misidentified as NPA fighters. According to reports, the AFP fled from the scene instead of rendering aid.

“The NDFP Special Office for the Protection of Children demands that the government of Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. stop the abuse of children and to abide by international laws on the protection of children and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law,” Ledesma concluded.