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ARMY: 2 minors as rebel returnees proof NPA still recruits kids

Six former rebels, including two minors, from the Ata-Manobo tribe in Talaingod, Davao del Norte, surrendered to soldiers of the 89th infantry battalion on May 13.

Lt. Col. Silas Trasmontero, the 89th Infantry Battalion commander, said the surrenderees included a 16-year-old female and a 17-year-old female. The two girls were also the live-in partners of two guerrillas who belonged to Guerrilla Front 56, Sub-Regional Command 5.

The team was under the Southern Mindanao Regional Committee led by Ka Rigor.

Trasmontero said five of the rebel returnees were residents of Talaingod, Davao Del Norte and the other one was from San Fernando, Bukidnon.

He credited the efforts of the battalion, local officials, tribal leaders, business sector, and family members of the rebels.

Accordingly, they surrendered due to exhaustion, shortage of food supplies, and infighting in the organization.

“I was recruited and joined at age 12 out of curiosity and also because all of my family members were full-time NPA members,” alias Lynlyn said.

The 17-year-old girl recalled that she first served as a supply officer and later on deployed as a medic. She did not finish her education because she was working full-time as a guerrilla.

Trasmontero said that the tribal communities remained vulnerable to the sweet promises of the NPA. The rescue of the two minors also proved that the NPA continues to defy international laws against child combatants. He said that it is considered as a war crime by the International Criminal Court.

“Unfortunately, the terrorist organization CPP-NPA deprived them of all these rights and used them as puppets of the wicked terrorist objective that leads them to chaos, destruction, and horrible death,” he said.

The battalion commander said they filed appropriate charges against the leaders of the CPP-NPA for exposing children to harm.

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