BUENAVISTA, Agusan del Norte — A pregnant member of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) has been reunited with her three sons nine years after she left them in the care of her family.
“Apay”, 38, along with 18-year-old “Wena”–another pregnant colleague–surrendered to the Army’s 23rd Infantry Battalion on May 16 after a civilian tipoff led the military to an NPA supporter in Sitio Cabalalahan, Barangay Guinabsan here.
Apay, who was reunited with her sons on Saturday at the headquarters of 23IB here, said she joined the communist rebel movement in 2006.
She said she acted as a medic for 13 years with the Guerrilla Front 4B (GF-4B) of the NPA’s North Central Mindanao Regional Committee (NCMRC) of the NPA for more than 13 years.
Lt. Col. Francisco L. Molina, 23IB commander, said Apay’s first wish upon surrendering was to see her sons.
“It’s her wish to see her three children. She’s a mother, she longed to see her sons. Nine years of not seeing her children is agonizing for a mother,” Molina said.
Apay and Wena’s health conditions have already been checked by the Department of Health (DOH) whose personnel provided pregnant women with vitamins and medicines.
Apay expressed gratitude to the Army and the government for facilitating the meeting with her children.
Apay cried when she saw her sons alight from a vehicle and hugged them as they went near her. They were accompanied by her two sisters and her sister-in-law.
“I’m happy that they are with me now. When I was in the mountains, I longed to see them. I really missed my children,” she said.
Apay said she left her firstborn, 12, to her mother and sister when he was still two months, while her second son, now 10, when he was still five months.
Her youngest son, Megan, 9 was only one-month-old when left to the care of her sister.
“I’m not sure if my children still have a memory of my face or voice. But I know they still feel my being their mother whey they hugged me tight,” Apay said.
“This day is memorable. I won’t forget the help the Philippine Army has given to me. Now I realize the true service the Army is providing to the people,” she added.
Apay said the military’s “excellent treatment” of her other pregnant colleague was contrary to the claims of the NPA, whose cadres would regularly frighten them of human rights abuses.
” We are treated humanely inside the Army camp. They facilitated our check-up considering that we are pregnant and provided us with medicines,” Apay said.
Molina reiterated his call to the remaining NPA rebels in the area to consider the government’s peace offer and return to their families.
“The government and the Army are always open to accepting them once they decide to lay down their arms and reunite with their families,” Molina said.
The NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United Kingdom, the European Union, the United States, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)