Malacañang vows to close schools training child combatants

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 9) — Malacañang says it is working toward closing schools which they say train child warriors.

In a statement released Monday, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea said in various parts of the country, groups that advance terrorism, exploit children as young as 11 years old and force them into becoming warriors.

The statement said these actions post a "serious threat" to government efforts which provide special protection for children and youth from all forms of neglect, abuse, cruelty, "and other conditions prejudicial to their development."

To stop such occurrences, Medialdea said the government would implement the Special Protection of Children in Situations of Armed Conflict Act which was signed by President Rodrigo Duterte in January.

It declares all children – those under 18 years of age and adults who are unable to fully protect themselves due to physical or mental disabilities — as "Zones of Peace" and mandates the government to protect their rights.

"The State shall take feasible measures to prevent the recruitment, re-recruitment, use, displacement of, or grave rights violations against children involved in armed conflict," the law reads.

The Palace statement said the government, through the Department of Education, would close schools that are found to be training grounds of so-called child warriors.

READ: DepEd shuts down 55 lumad schools 

However, in a series of tweets Sunday, the Communist Party of the Philippines said, "The revolutionary movement consciously abides by international laws and rules of war that prohibit the recruitment of children below 15 years of age for combat work."