MANILA, Dec. 7, 2016— A Catholic bishop has called on the government to act now to stop the recruitment of children into dissident groups.
Newly-installed Ozamiz Archbishop Martin Jumoad condemned the alleged involvement of minors who may be forced to fight.
“Our government must double their efforts to win the sympathy of our young (people) [on] the side of goodness,” said Jumoad, a former bishop of Basilan.
Poverty, lack of guidance
According to him, recruiting child warriors is not new in Mindanao like what is allegedly being done by the Maute group, one of several Islamist groups in the country’s troubled south.
He said young people are sometimes enticed to join rebel groups because of two reasons: poverty and lack of guidance from parents.
The prelate also called on local catechists and Islamic leaders to be more concerned about the issue and help prevent the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict.
“Ustadz and catechists must do our share in reaching out to the periphery so that the values of the Almighty be heard and lived by them,” he said.
Human rights violation
Jumoad reiterated that recruiting child soldiers is unacceptable because it violates human rights.
“It is unbelievable that children are used as soldiers,” Jumoad previously said.
“Mindanao will never become peaceful if children are exposed to violence. Children must be in school so that Mindanao will have a bright future,” he said. (CBCPNews)