By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
A suspected member of the New People’s Army (NPA) voluntarily surrendered to elements of the Philippine Army 94th Infantry Battalion (94IB) last Sunday in Barangay Tacpao, Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental.
In a statement issued by the 302nd Infantry Brigade yesterday morning, they identified the former rebel as 17-year-old Efren Canumay Mission of Barangay Binobohan in the said city.
Canumay, who was also referred to as ‘Ka Arnel,’ was a member of the NPA Squad 1, Sentro De Grabidad in Central Negros.
When soldiers questioned Canumay, he claimed to be one of the rebels involved in the firefight in Barangay Tacpao last January 19. He also confirmed, during the gun battle, three of his comrades were wounded and were forced to leave their personal belongings when they retreated.
302nd Brigade commander, Brigadier General Ignacio Madriaga, said Canumay is proof the NPA are recruiting minors in their ranks, which is a clear violation of human rights and international humanitarian law.
He also said that the former rebel would regain a normal life and have a better future.
“Considering his situation, Efren will undergo psychosocial and stress debriefings to gradually welcome him to mainstream society,” Madriaga said.
Madriaga also took a shot at NPA leaders for spreading lies, stating, they had been allegedly telling members not to surrender as government forces will kill them.
“Again, the truth will set us free from the lies and propaganda of the NPA,” Madriaga added. “[They] put not just the lives of many minors in danger but also destroy the lives of our fellow Negrenses.”
He also appealed for Canumay’s comrades to surrender in order to “regain normal lives and have a better future together with their respective families.”/DGB, WDJ