Rescued 'child warrior' turned over to Bukidnon social workers
By Nef Luczon / Philippine News Agency
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY - The Army's 89th Infantry Battalion (89IB) on Wednesday turned over to social workers a 13-year-old girl said to be a “child warrior" of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) following her rescue in Barangay San Jose, San Fernando, Bukidnon.
In a statement, 89IB commander, Lt. Col. Donald P. Gaffud said the rescued child was brought to the municipal social welfare and development office (MSWDO) of Talaingod, Davao del Norte, where she originally resides, and will subsequently be returned to her family.
On November 9, troopers from the 89IB troops and barangay officials in San Jose rescued the 13-year-old from the hands of an NPA group operating in the area.
According to the child, she escaped from the unit led by a certain Ida Marie Montero, secretary of NPA's Southern Regional Command-5 of the Southern Mindanao Regional Committee.
Together with the NPA group, the child said she was evading the ongoing focus military operations conducted by the 1003rd Brigade, under the 10th Infantry Division in San Fernando, Bukidnon.
According to Gaffud, the child suffered from hunger, fatigue, stress, and psychological trauma while she was with the NPAs.
Gaffud condemned the heinous act of the NPA in snatching and "destroying the future of precious children just for the sake of their selfish and unpopular ideology".
"(The girl) is only one of the many child combatants who were forcefully recruited by the CTGs (communist terrorist groups) and were made to believe in their deceptive propaganda. She disclosed that her six-year-old brother is currently also with the CTGs," the 89IB statement said.
The Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.
The National Democratic Front of the Philippines, meanwhile, has been formally designated as a terrorist organization by the Anti-Terrorism Council on June 23, 2021, citing it as “an integral and separate part” of the CPP-NPA created in April 1973. (PNA)