Practice Relating to Rule 137. Participation of Child Soldiers in Hostilities
The Philippine Army Soldier’s Handbook on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (2006) provides:
While not in combat:
4. Do not allow any person below 18 years old to take part in the armed conflict.
Children shall be considered as zones of peace and shall enjoy the protection of the State against dangers arising from an armed conflict. Children shall not be recruited or employed by the government forces to perform or engage in activity necessary to and in direct connection with an armed conflict either as a soldier, guide, courier or in a similar capacity which would result in his being identified as an active member of an organized group that is hostile to the government forces.
In its glossary, the Handbook further notes:
– refers to persons below 18 years of age or those over but unable to fully take care of themselves or protect themselves from abuse, neglect, cruelty, exploitation or discrimination because of a physical or mental disability or condition.
The Act on Child Protection (1992) of the Philippines, in an article on “Children in situations of armed conflict”, provides: “Children shall not … take part in the fighting, or be used as guides, couriers or spies.”
In 1993, in its initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, the Philippines stated: “Children are … not allowed to take part in the fighting and not to be used as guides, couriers and spies.”
In 2002, in a speech during the 6th Asia Pacific-Middle East Regional Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the President of the Philippines noted:
… I thank the work of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in soothing the suffering of the victims of terrorism even as I ask you to elevate other issues related to conflict or terrorism to a higher place in the agenda of your action and advocacy plan.
One, is an active campaign, I hope, against the employment of children and minors in combat. This comes to my mind, because just a week ago, I attended a surrender ceremony of former communist rebels and saw how they still continue to be recruited at such an early age to wage war against the government. I ask for your support and cooperation in facing this serious challenge to the community of civilized nations.
In 2007, in its report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the 2000 Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, the Philippines stated:
The Philippine government does not at all allow the direct participation of the country’s minors in warfare. This is manifest in the policy of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to enlist into the armed forces only persons who are 18 years old and above. This policy is contained in the Memorandum Circular No. 13 on Selective Enlistment/Reenlistment of the Department of National Defense (DND) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines signed in July 1991.