The information below is based on the Report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict (A/70/836–S/2016/360) issued on 20 April 2016.
There were limited large-scale armed engagements in 2015. However, sporadic low-intensity clashes continued to affect children, predominantly in Mindanao. An increased number of grave violations were documented in indigenous communities resulting from the conflict between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the New People’s Army (NPA), increasingly involving the Alamara and Magahat paramilitary groups with alleged links to the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
The United Nations verified the recruitment and use of 17 children, including 15 children used as human shields, by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in one incident, and two recruited by NPA. Unverified reports indicated that the Abu Sayyaf Group recruited around 30 children in Basilan in April.
Two cases of detention of children for their alleged association with armed groups were verified. In January, a 17-year-old boy was detained and questioned by the Armed Forces of the Philippines for alleged association with NPA in the Davao region.
The United Nations verified the killing of 6 children and the injury of 25. A third of the casualties were attributed to the Abu Sayyaf Group. For example, in May, a boy was beheaded by the Group in Basilan for allegedly spying. Two verified incidents were attributed to the Armed Forces of the Philippines, involving the killing of two children and injury of two others. On 18 August, in Bukidnon Province, northern Mindanao, the Armed Forces of the Philippines killed five family members in front of their house, including two boys aged 14 and 17 years. Two injuries were attributed to the Magahat paramilitary group, one killing to NPA and one injury to the National Police. The other 13 casualties were attributed to crossfire or explosive remnants of war.
The United Nations verified the rape of a 14-year-old girl by three soldiers in three separate incidents between May and July. The soldiers were court-martialled and their superior was recommended for administrative sanctions. However, the civilian criminal proceedings for rape were dismissed owing to insufficient evidence.
Almost all verified cases of attacks on schools and education personnel took place in indigenous communities. Private schools run by non-governmental organizations were systematically targeted for alleged links to NPA. Five incidents were attributed to the Magahat paramilitary group, three to the Armed Forces of the Philippines, two to the Alamara paramilitary group and one each to NPA and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters. In a particularly grave incident, the director of a school run by a non-governmental organization was killed in an indigenous community in Caraga by the Magahat paramilitary group. No arrests have been made, despite warrants being issued. The United Nations verified 10 incidents of military use of schools; 6 incidents were attributed to the Armed Forces of the Philippines, 3 incidents jointly to the Armed Forces of the Philippines and paramilitary groups and 1 to the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.
The Moro Islamic Liberation Front demonstrated a strong commitment to the action plan to end and prevent child recruitment and use, achieving significant progress. The majority of the benchmarks have been reached and, in November, its leaders agreed on the steps required to identify and disengage any children associated with it. The full implementation of the action plan also requires safeguards to prevent recruitment and association, linked to the implementation of existing accountability mechanisms. Services to minimize the risk of reassociation of children will also be important.
In an encouraging development, in 2015, UNICEF renewed engagement with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines/NPA on its declaration and programme of action for the rights, protection and welfare of children.
The United Nations continues to work with the Armed Forces of the Philippines on its 2012 strategic plan on prevention and response to grave child rights violations in situations of armed conflict to ensure that it strengthens the protection of children in the light of continuing violations involving the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Parties in the Philippines
- Abu Sayyaf Groupa
- Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fightersa
- Moro Islamic Liberation Fronta,•This party has concluded an action plan with the United Nations in line with Security Council resolutions 1539 (2004) and 1612 (2005).
- New People’s Armya
*The parties underlined have been in the annexes for at least five years and are therefore considered persistent perpetrators.
(a) Parties that recruit and use children.