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Senator Sonny Angara has urged the government to take the necessary steps to address the issue of having child warriors in the battlefield following reports that the Maute group is deploying young soldiers.

“Talaga pong nakakaalarma na pati ang ating mga kabataan na walang kamalay-malay ay nadadamay sa gulong ito. Our children are the most vulnerable in times like these and I call on our government agencies, local officials and military personnel to make a concerted effort in ensuring the protection and care of our children affected by the armed conflict,” Angara said in a statement Sunday (June 4).

A number of children allegedly recruited by force by the Maute group are orphans whose rebel parents were killed in combat while some were allegedly enticed to join the fight as a way to heaven or martyrdom, reports said.

Angara said that RA 7610, the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act which prohibits children to take part in the fighting during armed conflicts declared children as zones of peace.

“But for the longest time, the rights of our children are being violated especially in conflict areas. They are being used as combatants, informants, as human shield against government forces and now as propaganda tools. We must put an end to this,” he said.