Army accuses leftist groups of exploiting Lumad minors in rally vs soldiers
Sto Tomas, Davao del Norte (31 October) -- In a continuing total disregard to the wellbeing of children, several left leaning organizations led by Karapatan, KMU, Anak Pawis, Bayan Muna, Gabriela and Katribu Party List used innocent Lumad children in their rally against government troops infront of the army brigade headquarters in Sto Tomas town in Davao del Norte province Wednesday noon October 28, 2009.
Col. Eduardo Del Rosario, commander of the army's 1003rd Infantry Brigade based here, deplored the use of children by leftist groups.
"This is a clear exploitation of children and a violation of every conceivable laws and conventions on the protection of minors. The children must be safe in their homes or in school and must not be forced to participate in such activity and ordered to shout anti-military accusations while holding anti-government posters. They used about 15 children aging 7-12 years old to carry placards, block the road. That is a total disregard to the safety of children," said Col. Del Rosario.
"The CPP-NPA-NDF also exploits children and use them as combatants. Why are these groups doing the same scheme as the NPA? There must be something that they are not telling us." Del Rosario added.
Some 60 protesters some of which are children onboard six trucks alighted and marched towards the army to protest a few meters from the military camp marched carrying streamers while shouting anti-government slogans.
Del Rosario welcomed the protesters and invited them inside the camp for a dialogue so as not to block the road and disturb workers of a nearby banana packing plant but the group refused and continued with their rally. Sensing that a dialogue will not happen, Del Rosario left the protesters and ordered his troops to distribute Social Integration Program (SIP) leaflets to the said group while Christmas songs were played in around camp.
The SIP is the newest government scheme which offers livelihood programs to convince rebels to return to the folds of the law. (10th ID) [top]