Two underage amazons and a young bomb maker surrendered to the soldiers of the 23rd Infantry Battalion over the weekend.
1Lt. Roel Maglalang, the Civil-military Operations (CMO) officer the 23rd IB, identified the two surrenderees as alias Gethel (political guide) and alias Christine (medic), both 17 years old.
Maglalang said they were recruited by alias Ron-ron, a member of Sub-Regional Command (SRC) 3, Sagay, North Central Mindanao Regional Committee. They were promised a brighter future, as well as financial support for their families.
Reportedly, the two female teenagers were in schools before they joined the New People’s Army.
“They were not clearly informed that they will be joining the armed movement. Contradictory to their promises, they only suffered loneliness, exhaustion and starvation until they found an opportunity to escape from the said group,” he added.
Meanwhile, alias Gethel expressed her resentment against the NPAs.
“I was a student by the time I was recruited. Due to the hardship and hunger I experienced inside the movement, I decided to go back to the folds of the law,” she said.
“At first, I was afraid because our leader told us that there’s a big possibility that the military will torture and kill me upon knowing that I am an NPA member, but I stand firm with my decision. I am so glad that the soldiers of 23IB never fail to help me and they assisted me to start a new life,” she added.
Moreover, alias Christine also revealed the struggle she encountered inside the armed movement.
“I didn’t know that I am going to be a member of CPP-NPA. My parents also do not know that I became a member of the NPA. We were not allowed to visit our parents, and even to contact them is strictly prohibited,” Christine added.
“Later, I knew that my family received death threat telling them that once they will report to the authorities regarding my situation, they will be killed,” she recalled.
Lt. Col. Francisco Molina Jr, commanding officer of the 23IB, warned parents to watch over their kids so they would not be decieved into joining the NPA.
“Some of the Leaders of the NPAs have already surrendered to the folds of the law, but it was so alarming that even the female youths are also fighting against the government troops just like what happened to Gethel and Christine,” he said.
“The recruitment of the youth is a big violation of the International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and Republic Act 7610 (Special Protection of Children against Abuse Exploitation and Discrimination Act),” he said.
Meanwhile, an NPA combatant who surrendered to the troops of 23rd Infantry (Masigasig) Battalion revealed the location of three weapons caches in Sibagat, Agusan del Sur on Nov. 8.
He was identified as alias Marco, a former member of Sandatahang Yunit Propaganda 21C, Guerilla Front (GF) 21, North Eastern Mindanao Regional Committee (NEMRC), under the leadership of Anthony Sagdon Dagium.
The troops recovered three M14 rifles, 35-meter electrical wire, two blasting caps with detonating cord, one pair handguard for M16, one pair AR 18 handguard, and one improvised anti-personal mine, which was still planted inside CPP-NPA hideout.
He claimed that he started as a courier of the NPA when he was just 14 years old. He became a full-time combatant when he was 16.