Soldiers capture MILF child warrior in Sarangani

Published by rudy Date posted on January 26, 2009

16-year-old combatant was taken into custody by the provincial welfare and development office

MAITUM, Sarangani: Pursuing soldiers captured a child warrior of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front who has been wounded in the recent firefight.

Lt. Col. Ferdinand Budeng, the Maitum-based Army 28th Infantry Battalion commander, said the 16-year-old MILF combatant (name withheld) now recuperating from his bullet wounds, has been taken into custody by the provincial welfare and development office of Sarangani.

 “The capture of the child warrior belies the claim of the MILF that they are not using children in combat operations,” Budeng said.

 Serafin Ramos Jr., head of the provincial information office, said the wounded boy, who was armed with a caliber .45 pistol with two magazines and 14 rounds of ammunition, was captured when 28th IB troops under First Lt. Roberto Maduli overran an MILF 105th base command outpost in Sitio Kadapukan, Barangay Tuanadatu.

The “child warrior” was immediately brought to the Maitum Emergency Hospital for initial treatment after which he was forwarded to a hospital in General Santos City for further treatment, Ramos said.

Budeng said the boy was captured when government troops overran an MILF outpost manned by some 75 lawless MILF group, as 28th Infantry Battalion soldiers seized the said satellite camp with 20 bunkers, five outposts and running trenches in Maasim, Kiamba and Maitum coastal areas.

“There was no casualty on the government side while enemy blood scattered at the camp and in their withdrawal route,” the AFP reported.

On September 18, 2008, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) strongly condemned “the use of children as soldiers by armed groups.”

CHR Chairman Leila de Lima said whether the recruitment was voluntary, by undue influence, by reasons of revenge and especially if done so by force, the use of children to carry arms is a violation of the right of the child to be free from harm from abuse and exploitation and from forced labor.

“Recruitment of children in armed groups is one of the six grave child rights violations identified by the United Nations’ Security Council,” de Lima said, adding that “one of the most harrowing vestiges of war is the involvement of children as soldiers.”

The CHR official said they had been receiving reports from various reliable sources that Non-State Armed Groups, like the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, have resorted to the use of children, individuals below 18 years of age, as soldiers. “Such horrible exploitation of minors must be stopped.”

“These poor children should not be in the trenches of war-ridden fields fighting against well-trained Army soldiers but in schools where they can develop and actualize as complete individuals. They should be taught how to live with dignity, freedom and humanity,” a CHR press statement disclosed. –Isagani P. Palma, Correspondent, Manila Times

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