Rescue of 7 Leyte teens bares NPA’s youth recruitment
By Sarwell Meniano / Philippine News Agency
TACLOBAN CITY – The recent surrender of seven teenagers who joined the New People’s Army (NPA) in Mahaplag, Leyte calls for more efforts to stop the recruitment of youths to join the communist insurgency, the Philippine Army said on Tuesday.
Brig. Gen. Zosimo Oliveros, commander of the Army’s 802nd Brigade, said recruitment among young people by the terrorist group is real and adults should do something to stop this practice.
“Again, I call on parents and relatives to educate and monitor our youth so that they will not be deceived and victimized by terrorist group Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)-NPA,” Oliveros said in a statement.
The official issued the statement days after seven teenagers who joined the communist group surrendered to the barangay task force to end local communist armed conflict on July 23. The young recruits yielded to Union village chief Ricky Picorro and Mabunga village chief Gomercindo Ramos, Jr.
The young rebels turned themselves in after a surrenderer disclosed that the NPA organized two groups of young workers to do errands for rebels such as buying food supplies and other needs. The military got this information from alias "Debor", who left the NPA organization on July 16 this year.
The army and village officials launched a search for the young recruits. The team was able to convince alias Gino, 26; alias Richard, 25; alias Onad, 22; and alias Pato, 22 to surrender. There are also three other young rebels belonging to the group of alias Debor who yielded to local authorities.
These recruits attended an orientation held by the NPA in Mabunga village last year, according to the military.
The seven surrenderers pledged to abandon the communist ideology and signed a document formally rejecting the NPA as witnessed by village officials and soldiers in a ceremony held Monday in Union village, Mahaplag town.
“Their surrender is a proof that we should watch out for our youth so that they would not be recruited by the terrorist NPA. At their young age, the NPA terrorists have been urging our youth to engage in terrorism that will destroy their future,” said Lt. Col. Ernesto Dela Rosa, Jr., commander of the Army’s 14th Infantry Battalion.
Dela Rosa said the ongoing recruitment of NPA will serve as a challenge to soldiers and government agencies to step up its fight against deceptive recruitment of NPA.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)