MANILA, Philippines—Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman on Wednesday condemned the use of children as human shields by the communist New People’s Army (NPA) as the latter retreated from an encounter with the military in Compostela Valley late last month.
In a statement following the release of the young hostages late Tuesday, Soliman said the NPA should respect civilians, particularly children, as they are noncombatants.
“We strongly condemn this act of using civilians, most especially innocent children, as human shields. This is a clear and grave violation of human rights and international humanitarian law,” she said.
She said the four children were still suffering from trauma despite being released on Tuesday night.
On April 14, after intense fighting between government troops and NPA guerillas in Maco, Compostela Valley, the communist rebels reportedly fled, taking with them 39 residents, including two women and four children, of Maragusan, Compostela Valley, to use as human shields.
Soliman said the government has been consistent in showing its sincerity and proving its openness to dialogue with different groups to achieve peace.
“And yet, there are those who continue to resort to violence and inhumane ways to further their personal agenda, jeopardizing the lives of innocent people,” she said.