THE Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) on Tuesday condemned the New People’s Army for using civilians as human shields during clashes with government troops in Maco, Compostela Valley in April 14. DSWD was reacting to reports that the rebels took with them 39 residents, including two females and four children, of Maragusan town while they were in the nearby Mabini town. “We strongly condemn this act of using civilians, most especially innocent children, as human shields. This is a clear and grave violation of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law,” the DSWD said in a statement. “Despite having released all of their hostages as of this morning, the trauma that the NPA had inflicted on these innocent civilians, particularly the children, will affect how they go about their lives from hereon. It will leave a scar that, though fades, will perpetually remind them of the agonizing event that they should not have been part of in the first place.” The DSWD,through its field office in Davao region, iscoordinating with the local government unit of Maragusan to help the victims.