DSWD cautions authorities on handling minors in armed conflict
By Ninfa B Quirante
Catbalogan City (10 June) -- Ms. Luz Tacal, head of the Provincial Social Welfare and Development (PSWDO) cautioned the Philippine Army on handling the identity of minors in armed conflict.
This was her reaction when she was advised to go to radio station DYMS for the custody of the alleged 'NPA courier' turned over to the 34th Infantry Battalion (IB) by a former Barangay Captain of Hinayagan, Gandara named Leonardo Berbes.
Tacal informed that she was surprised to see a group of media men ogling at the minor who was ready for media presentation and simultaneously be interviewed on radio and telecast via a local TV channel.
To partly hide the minor's identity, Ms Tacal asked the boy to wear a cap and sunglasses.
But Tacal learned that it was a bit late.
Leyte Samar Daily Express explicitly identified the child by name in a news release published today.
The army also prepared a press release distributed to media members which also identified the boy.
The visibly peeved social worker said she was not in control of the situation, moreso that she did not know that DYMS programs are also telecast in the local TV.
In situations like this, minors should be protected by not showing off their faces and not revealing their names and even their parents.
The minor will be transported to DSWD in the region, the duly authorized agency to care for minors in armed conflict.
The minor deftly dismantled a.45 and an armalite to show off the lessons he learned in being a courier and a revolutionary tax collector for the rebels camping somewhere in Samar's hinterlands.
He alleged he was paid ten pesos for the load he delivers to the rebels periodically consisting of rice, and sometimes medicines.
The minor recalled a 'beheading' of a colleague who defied the commanders up there.
Tacal said the child will be subjected to debriefing session as he was clearly traumatized by the violence he witnessed.
She resolved to avoid the same faux pas the next time a minor is taken into custody and added she will try to have along talk with the authorities.
The twelve year old Dayucduc, as the army 's assigned name to the minor has a light build approximately weighing 35 kilos and standing less than four feet.
Based on the information given by the army, the minor's mother died and his father had no clear whereabouts. He claimed he was left under the care of her grandmother
The child also could not remember how long he stayed with the movement but recalls celebrating two Christmasses with his former comrades. (PIA-Samar/with 2Lt Jelynne Unabia) [top]