Of the twenty-six (26) who voluntarily surrendered to authorities at Barangay Balete, Aroroy, Masbate last July 17, nineteen (19) were minors, broken down into one (age 12), two (13), 6 (14), four (15), two (16), three (17) and one (19).
Minors all, they were children involved in armed conflict (CIAC).
According to the CIACs, they were invited to join an excursion last March 2020 when much to their surprise, the communist terrorist group started their indoctrination as new recruits.
“After a month, they gave me a copy of “Ang Bayan” newsletter with an instruction to pass it on to the other members. I did not, instead, I kept it,” narrated one 16-year-old surrenderer.
“Sila ay nilinlang ng mga miyembro ng CTG at sapilitang nirecruit. Malinaw itong paglabag sa batas at paglapastangan sa karapatan ng mga kabataan,” said Lt. Col. Siegfried Awichen, Battalion Commander ng 2nd Infantry Battalion (2IB).
Under Republic Act 9851 or the Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide, and Other Crimes Against Humanity, recruitment of minors are strictly prohibited from joining any armed groups.
Also forbidden and illegal under RA 11188 or the Special Protection of Children in Situations of Armed Conflict Act are what are called “children involved in armed conflict (CIAC)”.
In view of this, Col. Aldwine Almase, Brigade Commander ng 903rd Infantry Brigade condemned the CPP-NPA-NDF saying “Walang matinong tao o grupo ang magrerecruit ng mga kabataan para isali sa armadong tunggalian. Sinasabi ng teroristang komunista na kakampi sila ng mamamayan pero hindi nila pinahahalagahan ang buhay ng mga kabataang ito. Bukod tangi, gusto nilang sirain ang kinabukasan at gawing miyembro ng walang katuturang teroristang grupo,” ani Col. Almase.
Menawhile, the Police Regional Office 5 (PRO-5) under PBGen Jonnel Estomo immediately processed a criminal case-build up against the communist terrorist group responsible for the recruitment of the minors.
“Hindi tayo papayag na hindi mahuli, makulong at maparusahan ang mga communist terrorist na nanlinlang sa mga batang ito. Kailangan nilang makulong para wala ng iba pang mga kabataang mabiktima ng kanilang modus,” ani PBGen. Estomo.
According to MajGen Henry Robinson “Ang mga kabataang Bicolano ay matatalino at batid nilang may mahalaga at Malaki ang kanilang papel na gagampanan sa lipunan. Alam nilang ang mga kabataan ay dapat na nag-aaral at nagsisikap para sa kanilang mga pangarap at hindi namumundok para humawak ng armas at labanan ang pamahalaan.”
Robinson thanked the parents of these youth for not concealing their predicaments and not allowing their children to scatter to the wrong paths by coming forward to blow the whistle on the insurgents.
Besides the minors seven (7) rebels and one (1) regular member of the CPP-NPA-NDF, also came forward to turn in their arms at Barangay Concepcion in Aroroy, Masbate, to avail of the Balik-Loob Program that will reintegrate them back through a whole-nation approach to their respective communities.
They also surrendered eight guns of various calibers.
The Joint Task Force Bicolandia is convinced that the continuous flow of surrenders have been greatly influenced by the gruesome murder of civilian cousins Keith and Nolven Absalon.
Last June 18 to 28, in just eleven days 505 gave up their arms to surrender. SOVEREIGN/AQP