KILLED. The body of the 16-year-old CPP-NPA fighter, who died in a clash with troops of the Philippine Army’s 15th Infantry Battalion in the hinterlands of Candoni, Negros Occidental on Tuesday (May 3, 2022). The young rebel , a resident of neighboring Sipalay City, served as squad medic of the NPA’s South West Front. (Photo courtesy of 15th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army)

BACOLOD CITY – A minor combatant of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) died following a series of clashes with troops of the Philippine Army’s 15th Infantry Battalion (IB) in the hinterlands of Candoni, Negros Occidental on Tuesday afternoon.

Known as “Kisap” and “Boyca,” the 16-year-old  resident of neighboring Sipalay City, was a squad medical officer of the NPA’s South West Front.

Lt. Col. Michael Cuarteros, commanding officer of 15IB, said on Wednesday the troops are saddened by the young man's death as he was just used by the NPA to participate in hostilities.

“That is clearly a violation of both local and international laws,” he said.

The International Humanitarian Law (IHL) outlaws the recruitment of minors as child fighters. Rule 136 states that “Children must not be recruited into the armed forces or armed groups”.

According to the 15IB report, the troops, who were checking on a previously cleared village for the conduct of the retooled community support program, responded to reports of the presence of armed men, leading to a 15-minute firefight in Sitio Tigmaya, Barangay Gatuslao.

A soldier, who was slightly injured in his left arm, is now recuperating in a hospital.

After the encounter, government troops recovered an M-16 rifle, a .45-caliber pistol, an anti-personnel mine, five aluminum magazines of caliber 5.56mm rifle, more than 50 rounds of various types of ammunition, 22 bullet shells, and three kilos of ammonium nitrate composition.

They also found a hand-held commercial radio, a mobile phone, personal belongings, and subversive documents.

Cuarteros urged the remaining CPP-NPA members in southern Negros to “lay down their arms and stop sacrificing their lives for a pointless ideology”.

“Government assistance awaits your return to start a new life. Otherwise, we will continue to hunt you down,” he said.

The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.

The National Democratic Front (NDF) has been formally designated as a terrorist organization by the Anti-Terrorism Council on June 23, 2021, citing it as “an integral and inseparable part” of the CPP-NPA created in April 1973. (PNA)