Authorities are set to file charges against the New People’s Army (NPA) for recruiting a minor as one of its combatants.
On Sunday, a 14-year-old NPA surrendered to the soldiers of 56th Infantry Battalion in Talaingod, Davao del Norte Sunday afternoon.
The 56th IB is presently coordinating with the police in Talaingod for the filing of charges against the NPA leaders responsible for recruiting Ka Grace, a resident of Barangay Dagohoy in Talaingod.
“The NPAs are still recruiting minors to become child soldiers despite the universally accepted moral obligation under the International Humanitarian Law (IHL) that children must be protected,” Col Nolasco Mempin, the commander of the 1003rd Brigade, said. “The NPAs continue to deliberately put children in the way of armed conflict, thus, further depriving them of many of their rights.”
Capt. Erick Wynmer Calulot, the Civil-Military Operations Officer of the Philippine Army’s 1003rd Infantry Brigade, said Ka Grace served as a medic for the Andoy Platoon of the NPA’s Sub-Regional Guerilla Unit, Sub-Regional Committee 5, Southern Mindanao Regional Committee (SMRC).
Calulot said Ka Grace surrendered to Lt. Col. Norman Valdez, commanding officer of the 56IB in Barangay Sto Niño, Talaingod after “seeing the sincerity of the Community Support Program Team (CSP) in bridging for the resolution of social and developmental issues in their community.”
During the interview conducted by the soldiers, Ka Grace revealed that she was recruited last October. She joined after being promised by the NPA that her family will be out of poverty.
Ka Grace, Calulot said, also revealed that there are other minors still with the underground movement.
Currently, the surrenderer was already turned over to the Talaingod municipality’s Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office (MSWDO) where she will undergo psychological and other necessary evaluation.