/ 20 June 2021

DEFENSE Secretary Delfin Lorenzana denounced the involvement of children in communist insurgency.

The government official stressed the matter after three members of the Lumad-Manobo tribe, including a 12-year-old student, were killed in an alleged firefight with the military.

In a statement, Lorenzana blamed the New People’s Army for continuing “to place minors in perilous situations.”

“Bilang isang ama, nalulungkot akong makitang humantong sa kamatayan ng mga bata ang pangyayaring ito,” Lorenzana said.

“Ang tanong ko, bakit patuloy na dinadala ng mga NPA sa kanilang hanay ang mga bata sa kanilang pakikipagtunggali sa ating mga sundalo?” he added.

Lorenzana posted his remarks on Twitter with photos supposedly showing young people as members of the NPA.

The secretary also lambasted the NPA for recruiting children as firefighters.

“Bakit kailangang ipahamak ang mga bata?

Ginagawang pain laban sa ating mga sundalo… Whatever the cause, we all agree that children should never ever be put in a harm’s way. Our people should hold them to account,” he said.

Willy Rodriguez, Lenie Rivas, and 12-year-old Angel Rivas died in a supposed clash with members of the 3rd Special Forces Battalion of the Philippine Army in Barangay Diatagon, Lianga town last June 15.

The military maintained the operation was legitimate.

However, several groups claimed the victims were farmers and not rebels.