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DSWD seeks help in addressing ‘boy soldiers’

Press Release
February 3, 2023

TAGUM CITY - The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is seeking help in the operationalization of care center for boys involved in armed conflict as combatant, courier, guide, and spy for terrorist and criminal syndicates including those considered as ‘boy soldiers.’

According to DSWD Undersecretary for Inclusive and Sustainable Peace Alan A. Tanjusay, the department is actively seeking help from the provincial and local government units, private entities, and non-government organizations in operating the residential care facility for boys who are Children in Situation of Armed Conflict (CSAC) located in Tagum City.

“We must utilize the center and intervene now in the hearts and minds of these boys victims of violence, crimes, various exploitation and extremism while they can be molded, wielded and influenced into productive citizens. And the sooner DSWD expert social workers in the facility commences its work into the lives of these children then we have hope these young people could make it through,” emphasized Tanjusay.

Completed with the collaboration between DSWD and Tagum City local government unit in 2021 through the Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) program, the one-hectare center is a 24-hour, 7-day residential facility that provides temporary care and serves as rehabilitation center for a maximum of 25 to 30 exploited boys aged 17 years old and below by administering protection, care, training and rehabilitation standards for the victims in a home-like environment for a maximum period of six months before they are reintegrated into their respective families and communities.

However, the 30-bed facility is currently inoperable due to lack of manpower and financial resources following the pandemic crises.

The children are currently housed in different government facilities across several regions in Mindanao. Some of them are abandoned by their parents, some are victims of organized human trafficking and some were rescued and recovered during military operations and found exploited as couriers of firearms and explosives. Other children were forced as human shields, spies and exploited in terrorist extremism activities.

According to the Unicef, between 2005 and 2020, more than 93,000 children were verified as recruited, exploited and drawn by insurgents, rebels, extremists and terrorist groups to conflict and criminal activities.