I am a retired master sergeant and I am personally writing this letter to belie allegations that the Armed Forces of the Philippines use children as combatants, couriers or informers in war operations (“UN slams use of kids by armed groups in PH,” Page A4, 6/18/13). It is the New People’s Army and other similar groups that use children in war—even as human shields during encounters with government soldiers. We soldiers know that the enemy will use any tactic or strategy to promote their ideology or achieve their violent goals.
The allegation that soldiers use schools as headquarters is not true. The only time we go to schools is when we build them and during “Brigada Eskwela.” It is the community residents themselves who request the presence of soldiers to help protect them from NPA extortionists who deprive them of peace, source of living and food. The soldiers are there to defend them and the residents are not complaining. In fact, they welcome the presence of soldiers who eventually become their friends.
During military operations, soldiers are very careful not to hurt civilians because part of their training is adherence to and respect for human rights. Soldiers have young sons and daughters, too. It is not only against what soldiery is all about, it is also against their nature as fathers and parents to use minors in military operations.
All these news about the United Nations’ findings that the AFP is using children in war are mere allegations meant to destroy the AFP because the AFP is the No. 1 enemy of society’s enemies—the NPA, Abu Sayyaf Group and all other terrorist organizations. We respect the UN, except that there is nothing to prove its allegations against the AFP. We must correct this disinformation as it hurts soldiers who know in their hearts how much they value children and their being soldiers of the people.
—WILFREDO S. TUPAS,