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PIA Press Release

Solon urges rebels to stop recruiting children for warfare

ICC General Santos City (20 November) -- Cotabato Rep. Emmylou Talino-Mendoza has urged rebel groups in Mindanao to cease on enlisting underage fighters into "combat zones."

She maintained that "the continued mobilization of children for warfare, or for hazardous combat support operations, is utterly deplorable."

Talino-Mendoza also urged "the government to push for the demobilization of underage fighters in future peace negotiations, should it still pursue any."

"The government has to ensure that underage combatants are disarmed, rehabilitated and then reintegrated into civilian life -- into schools where they ought to be," she said in a news release posted in government website.

She also warned government troops to be cautious of "using children to serve as guides to unfamiliar terrain in theaters of operations."

Study by the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) showed that up to 30 percent of children have been recruited "in armed conflict zones for combat as well as support operations" by rebel groups. These children's age ranges from 12 to 17, it said.

Based on international accord the recruitment and deployment of children below 18 for warfare is strongly not allowed. Children as young as 16 years old may be recruited into government armies as volunteers but only with parental consent.

According to military statistics some 3,000 children below 18 have been enlisted as fighters by rebel groups. Of this figure, 1,500 are serving in the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), 1,200 in the New People's Army (NPA) and 300 in the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf. (PIA SarGen) [top]

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