The NDFP Declaration and Program of Action for
by Luis G. Jalandoni
Member, National Council and National Executive Committee
National Democratic Front of the Philippines
June 29, 2012
Of the estimated total Philippine population of 95 million, about 42% are
below 18 years of age. The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP)
which fights for the national and social liberation of the Filipino people
has consistently given serious attention to the rights, protection and
welfare of children. In 2005, it published the NDFP's Defense of the
Rights of the Filipino Child, which presented the conditions of Filipino
children and the programs and policies of the NDFP regarding them.
The NDFP is cognizant of the fact that the overwhelming majority of
children are the sons and daughters of workers, peasants and the urban
poor. They are victims of an unjust social system which consigns them to a
life of exploitation, poverty, ignorance, malnourishment, disease and
underdevelopment as human beings. They are forced to sell their labor.
Some are lured into prostitution and pornography, kidnapped and trafficked
for body parts, pushed into vagrancy, beggary, petty thievery and drugs,
and jailed with hardened criminals.
Data on Filipino children and the reports of NDFP forces from various
regions prove that the conditions of Filipino children are worse than
ever. In 2011, there were already 5.5 million child workers. In
Northeastern Mindanao, children as young as five years old become log
haulers, oil palm gatherers, coconut tree climbers, planters, harvesters,
manual laborers carrying packages heavier than themselves.
Children living in the streets were estimated by the Children's
Rehabilitation Center (CRC) at 2.2 million in 2010. Some 20,000 children
are in prison throughout any single year according to Child Rights
From 2001 to 2010, CRC documented 1,205 cases of different violations
which include the false labeling of 41 children as child soldiers of the
New People's Army, the use of 22 of them as guides or shield in military
operations and the recruitment of four minors into paramilitary groups of
the reactionary government.
In 2011, four female minors were seduced by the military and later
abandoned into pregnancy in Marihatag, Surigao del Sur. At the Tropicana
Beach Resort in General Santos City in 2008-2009, girls were brought as
prostituted women to cater to US soldiers. US armed personnel directly
involved in combat operations in Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Basilan and Zamboanga
del Sur have displaced and killed Moro civilians including children.
The NDFP regards the continuing gross and systematic violations of the
human rights of the majority of Filipino children by the ruling system of
big compradors and landlords as one of the compelling reasons for the
revolutionary struggle of the Filipino people. Such violations have been
aggravated by the deliberate targeting of these children in GRP/GPH
military operations against communities suspected of being under the
control and/or supportive of the revolutionary movement.
In view of the ever worsening conditions of children, the NDFP issued on
April 24, 2012, its Declaration and Program of Action for the Rights,
Protection and Welfare of Children.
The NDFP proclaims this Declaration and Program of Action within the
framework of its political authority defined as follows:
1. It stands for and carries the authority of the people's democratic
government consisting of organs of political power in substantial parts
all over the Philippines. It is the united front organization of all
revolutionary forces of the Filipino people fighting for national
independence and democracy. It includes the Communist Party of the
Philippines (CPP) as the leading party in the aforesaid government, the
New People's Army (NPA) as its armed force, and various mass organizations
of workers, peasants, women, youth, professionals and other sectors.
2. There is dual state power in the Philippines. One state power is that
of the Manila-based reactionary government of big compradors and
landlords. The other is that of the rural-based revolutionary government
of workers and peasants, which has its own Constitution and Guide for
Establishing the People's Democratic Government. The two contending states
or governments are co-belligerent forces in a civil war.
3. In accordance with Art. 1, paragraph 4 in relation to Art. 96,
paragraph 3 of the 1977 Protocol I Additional to the 1949 Geneva
Conventions, the NDFP issued the Declaration of Undertaking to Apply the
said Geneva Conventions and Protocol I on 5 July 1996 and submitted it to
the proper depositary, the Swiss Federal Council on the same date. By
proclaiming the said Declaration, the NDFP has assumed rights and duties
under Protocol I, on top of those provided for under common Article 3 of
the 1949 Geneva Conventions and under its Protocol II.
The pertinent social agencies of the people's democratic government and
the mass organizations of children, parents, teachers, women and other
sectors interested in the rights and welfare of children in urban and
rural areas are capable of self-reliantly looking after the rights and
welfare of Filipino children. They also adhere to the just and appropriate
conventions and provisions of international law pertaining to children and
may undertake appropriate forms of cooperation with foreign or
international organizations and agencies for the benefit of Filipino
The NDFP reiterates its commitment under the 1998 GRP-NDFP Comprehensive
Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL)
to uphold, protect and promote “the right of children and the disabled to
protection, care and a home, especially against physical and mental abuse,
prostitution, drugs, forced labor, homelessness, and other similar forms
of oppression and exploitation” (Part III, Respect for Human Rights, Art.
2, No. 24). It also reiterates its joint and separate commitment under the
CARHRIHL “to provide special attention to women and children to ensure
their physical and moral integrity. Children shall not be allowed to take
part in hostilities.” (Part IV, Respect for International Humanitarian
Law, Art. 10).
Cognizant of the rigors and risks for children in areas affected by the
civil war, the NDFP and its allied organizations have taken special care
to make decisions and implement measures to protect children from the
adverse consequences of the armed conflict.
In 1988, the Political Bureau of the CPP's Central Committee stipulated
that the NPA may recruit only persons who are 18 years and older as armed
fighters for its combat units. On October 15, 1999 the Executive Committee
of the CPP issued the “Memorandum on the Minimum Age Requirement for NPA
Fighters” reaffirming the minimum age of 18 for NPA fighters. In 2002, at
the 11th Plenum of the CPP Central Committee, the policy of the minimum
age was reiterated.
The earlier Memorandum of October 15, 1999 by the Executive Committee of
the CPP was further amended with immediate effect as reflected in the NDFP
Declaration and Program of Action for the Rights, Protection and Welfare
of Children adopted by the NDFP National Council on April 24, 2012.
Optional Protocol of 2002 and the So-Called Paris Principles
The NDFP recognizes the 1990 Convention on the Rights of the Child.
However, it criticizes the 2002 Optional Protocol on the Involvement of
Children in Armed Conflict, for its clear bias against liberation
movements. This Optional Protocol prohibits “armed groups that are
distinct from the armed forces of a State” from recruiting those under 18
in hostilities, under any circumstances yet allows schools under the
control of States Parties to train persons below 18. The NDFP considers
this Protocol not legally binding. Hence, it does not impose legal
obligations on the NPA.
The Aquino government, in violation of its own declaration in its
accession to the said Optional Protocol, has been exposed by human rights
organizations as having forcibly recruited minors.
The so-called Paris Principles have been used by the GPH to buttress the
Optional Protocol to falsely accuse the revolutionary movement of
recruiting child soldiers. These so-called principles, which are not part
of international law, contain a vague, expansive and misleading definition
that mixes up and confuses combatant and non-combatant tasks and even
construe innocuous social and community activities as acts of hostility or
combat. These are prejudicial to liberation movements and practically
require children to be physically and even permanently separated from
parents, families and the community. They put children at grave risk by
giving license to GPH security forces to accuse children falsely as child
soldiers, treat them as military targets and be open prey to various kinds
of rights violations.
Allegations by the reactionary government that the NPA recruits child
soldiers have been vigorously refuted by the NDFP and have been confirmed
to be false by independent human rights organizations in the Philippines
and abroad. Unfortunately, such allegations have been repeated by some
international bodies and nongovernmental organizations directed and funded
by agencies adverse to the NDFP.
Objective Field Study at Request of UNICEF
The only recent objective field study, which was conducted by the IBON
Foundation in cooperation with the Children's Rehabilitation Center (CRC)
and the Center for Women's Resources (CWR) at the request of the United
Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) on the “needs assessment of children and
women affected by armed conflict”, has proven that the NPA follows the
minimum age limit for NPA soldiers, as stipulated by the NDFP, CPP and NPA
and by this Declaration.
Program of Action
In the Declaration, the NDFP states its program of action for the rights,
protection and welfare of children.
The NDFP forces and the broad masses of the people shall ensure that
children are either at home with their parents, in school with their
teachers or at work under an employer. They shall assist child-rearing
parents, provide or permit schools and education for children. They shall
oppose and prevent the exploitation of children as laborers and combat
child prostitution, pornography, drug peddling and trafficking of body
parts. They shall encourage vagabond children to go back to school or to
an appropriate refuge, if they cannot be reunited with their parents.
They shall take all efforts to educate the children on the revolutionary
history of the Filipino people, the basic problems in a semi-colonial and
semi-feudal society and the revolutionary tasks of the people; to organize
and mobilize them in civic, cultural and other social activities, and
ensure that children learn how to conduct themselves in times of natural
disasters, military attacks and other emergencies.
In time of an attack on a community by the reactionary forces, the
children have the right to join their elders in protecting the community
or assisting especially the women, the children below the age of 15 and
those in frail health conditions, in saving themselves from enemy
The NDFP forces shall make the appropriate report to the nation and the
international community concerning the above but shall take care that the
information cannot be used by the reactionary state and its armed forces
to attack children.
The NPA itself at all levels and in all units prevents the recruitment and
use of child soldiers. The CPP's Military Commission and the NPA
Operational Command direct all commands and units of the NPA in different
areas of the country to strictly implement the pertinent CPP policies and
Furthermore, upon clear, credible and verifiable allegations of specific
violations of any recruitment and use of children, the NDFP shall promptly
investigate and ensure that appropriate disciplinary action is taken in
line with international minimum standards.
The mechanisms for protecting children's rights are the parents, teachers,
local community officials, priest or pastor of the community. Their
assistance will be sought when children are falsely accused as child
soldiers. Likewise, Philippine human rights, civic and religious
organizations shall be asked to help the children in asserting the truth
and fighting for their rights.
Again, when children are abducted, tortured, forced to make false
confessions to being NPA fighters, are detained in a military camp or in a
Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) compound or killed,
the services of human rights, civil and religious organizations are
crucial in assisting the children and their parents to fight for their
rights and in ventilating the truth. The NDFP will be ready to support
Depending on the progress of the GRP/GPH-NDFP peace negotiations and the
effectiveness of the Joint Monitoring Committee under CARHRIHL, measures
additional to the above may be made available for investigating any
complaint related to the issue of child soldiers.
With the existence of the above-mentioned mechanisms and procedures, which
are independent of the NDFP, CPP and NPA, there is, therefore, no need for
the NPA and other revolutionary forces to put themselves at risk by
allowing any foreign or international entity and its undefined partners to
gain direct and unimpeded access to NPA commands and guerrilla fronts.
Upon its own initiative or under its auspices, the NDFP shall continue to
investigate and document all grave violations of the rights of children by
the reactionary forces, including recruitment and use of children, killing
and maiming of children, rape, abduction, attack against schools or
hospitals, and denial of humanitarian access to children.
The NDFP is ever willing to receive from any entity clear, credible and
verifiable allegation of specific violations of recruitment and use of
children and shall promptly conduct investigation and make reports to the
concerned parties. In case of any breach, the appropriate disciplinary
action shall be undertaken against erring officers and personnel of the
The NDFP shall undertake the following organizational measures to uphold
and defend children's rights. It shall create and operationalize under its
Human Rights Committee within 6 months after approval of this Declaration
and Program of Action a Special Office for the Protection of Children.
This Special Office shall:
a) oversee the implementation of this Program of Action
b) report widely the achievements
c) receive complaints and refer these to the organs concerned for
d) assist all NDFP forces with advice on all matters related to the
protection of children in armed conflict
e) organize educational programs and encourage the formation of child
protection units under the auspices of the organs of political power and
mass organizations especially of children, youth and women
f) establish and maintain contacts and relations with all relevant
g) issue an annual report on the situation of children in relation to the
armed conflict and on the activities to uphold, defend and promote the
rights of children.
The NDFP Negotiating Panel shall be directed to present to its counterpart
Panel a draft additional protocol to the CARHRIHL that will further
elaborate the pertinent Article 10 of CARHRIHL in order to focus on the
protection of minors from adverse effects of the armed conflict and
against specific violations of the rights of children.
The NDFP Panel shall also be instructed to present a proposal to create a
special section focused on the rights of children in the Joint Monitoring
Committee under the CARHRIHL.
The NDFP Panel shall further be directed to demand and work for the
inclusion in the prospective Comprehensive Agreement on Social and
Economic Reforms (CASER) a provision that comprehensively upholds the
rights of children, guarantees proper care and education and prohibits the
exploitation of child labor.
NDFP Cooperation with Foreign or International Entities with Regard to
The NDFP is amenable to cooperate with international entities and engage
in dialogue, present issuances, actions and mechanisms that its
organizations have undertaken in order to uphold children's rights.
It is open to practical cooperation with international entities in
investigating and monitoring children's conditions and problems provided
that the NDFP's political authority and this Declaration are acknowledged
It respects the reasonable and viable standard of cooperation established
in relations with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and
in previous joint missions of Philippine NGOs and their international
partners for investigating the human rights situation in the Philippines,
including that of the children.
It appreciates the cooperation between the UNICEF and IBON, together with
human rights and other local organizations, in investigating and reporting
on the situation of children, particularly in areas of armed conflict.
It is amenable to cooperation with UNICEF, the UNESCO, ILO, World Health
Organization (WHO), World Food Program (WFP) and other United Nations (UN)
agencies for the purpose of upholding the rights of children, protecting
them and ensuring their welfare in an all-round way.
However, regarding the United Nations Secretary General's Special
Representative on Children and Armed Conflict (UNSG SRCAC), it urges this
UN unit to seriously consider the example of UNICEF in cooperating with
local organizations independent of the reactionary armed forces and
cautions it from relying on speculations, hearsay and hostile claims of
the reactionary armed forces and their agents to make false conclusions
and cause the unjust listing of the NPA as a recruiter and user of child
The NDFP maintains that it cannot at this point establish and develop
positive and productive relations with the UNSG SRCAC because of the
baseless and unwarranted vilification and listing of the NPA as child
rights violators in the annual report of the UNSG. The NDFP wrote UNSG Ban
Ki-Moon on 24 November 2008 strongly protesting said baseless vilification
and listing of the NPA. This letter was preceded by an earlier letter to
then UNSG Kofi Annan on 7 March 2005.
The NDFP continues to demand that the UNSG remove the NPA from its list of
child rights violators and withdraw its previous reports which falsely
accuse the NPA of recruiting and using child soldiers. Once this is done,
then it becomes possible for the NDFP and the UNSG SRCAC to start and
develop their cooperation.
Finally, subject to security consideration, regulations, terms and
conditions set by its political and military authorities, the NDFP may
allow access to areas within its jurisdiction after fully availing of the
basic mechanisms stipulated in this Program of Action.
NDFP Gains in Upholding the Rights of Children
NDFP revolutionary forces throughout the country have achieved substantial
gains in upholding and protecting the rights of children. Literacy schools
have been built. In one consolidated NPA area, 21 Lumad communities with a
population of 7,000, all school-aged children receive basic education and
a majority can go to high school. Sports and cultural development and
health management system has been set up. In another region, children have
been organized and cultural campaigns launched to combat anti-social
activities. Collective production farms have been put up to help eradicate
Call for Deep going Study and Resolute Implementation of this Declaration
and Action Program
The NDFP National Council calls on all NDFP forces throughout the country
and the Filipino people to undertake deep going study of the Declaration
and Action Program and to implement resolutely and creatively the Program
of Action for the Rights, Protection and Welfare of Children. This program
of action is an integral part of the revolutionary struggle to achieve
national and social liberation.
Call for International Solidarity
The NDFP National Council issues the urgent call to the international
community to provide effective political, moral and material support for
this just struggle for the rights of Filipino children.