NPA Hiring Minors, Says Military

MANILA, Philippines - The New People's Army (NPA) is now employing minors in making improvised bombs and landmines, a senior military official said Sunday.

Brig. Gen. Rolando Tenefrancia, Armed Forces of the Philippines- Civil Relations Service (AFP-CRS) commander, said that ''this is a tragic incident where the children are being taught to become future terrorists instead of becoming productive citizens of our society.''

Tenefrancia said that ''by recruiting children to be part of the armed conflict, the CPP-NPA manifested its penchant for violating Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.''

''The death of inocent civilians most especially the children makes the CPP-NPA accountable to the public as these civilians should never have become victims of their atrocities in the first place,'' he added.

This developed as a rookie soldier died in a clash with suspected communist rebels in Tubay, Agusan del Norte last Saturday, police said. Supt. Martin Gamba, chief information officer of the CARAGA regional police, said that the soldiers from the 14th Scout Rangers Company were conducting combat patrol in Barangay Tagmamarkay when they chanced upon some 20 rebels in Sitio Kuson at about 3 p.m. ''The firefight lasted for 10 minutes, one soldier was reported killed,'' said Gamba.