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By Prince Golez

Malacañang has condemned the alleged use of child soldiers by the New People’s Army (NPA) following the death of a 16-year-old boy during an encounter between the military and rebels in Barangay Malinao, Gingoog City.

“Using children as soldiers takes away their rights and freedom towards self-determination, it also deprives them of the chance to achieve their goals and dreams, it robs them of their future. Such was the case with Litboy Talja Binongcasan,” Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said in a statement Monday.

Andanar cited both international humanitarian law and international human rights law that states and non-state armed groups must observe the prohibition on the employment of children in armed conflicts.

“To do so amounts to and constitutes a war crime that is highly unjustifiable and abominable,” according to him.

“It is highly immoral for any state and non-state actors to exploit the presence of children in their respective societies as a means to forward their ideological goals,” he added.

Andanar said the Palace also offered sympathies to the family of Litboy for what he described as an “unfortunate event.”

He also requested for the family of Litboy and for everyone to closely monitor the activities of their children.

“We ask you to do your part in order to halt and prevent any further exploitation and recruitment of our children by the CPP (Communist Party of the Philippines)-NPA and other insurgent groups,” the Presidential Communications Operations Office chief said.

Andanar likewise assured the public that the government will continue to fight for the children’s rights and will do all it can to protect and prevent them from being caught up in situations of conflict.

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