By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
The Philippine Army 3rd Infantry Division (3ID) yesterday confirmed another supposed New People’s Army (NPA) “child warrior” surrendered to government forces.
Based on a statement issued by the 3ID yesterday, a 15-year-old girl identified as “Regin” surrendered to elements of the 61st Infantry Battalion (61IB).
Regin, a native of Tapaz, Capiz, claimed she left the rebel movement due to extreme hardship and hunger in the mountains.
61IB commander, Lieutenant Colonel Sisenado Magbalot, Jr., said Regin is supposed to be studying in school but was instead forced to carry guns and ammunition for the rebels.
Magbalot said Regin’s surrender is more confirmation the NPA is recruiting and training innocent individuals, including children, to take part in their “criminal activities.”
3ID commander, Major General Dinoh Dolina, meanwhile, accused the rebel group anew of violating human rights and international humanitarian law by recruiting children.
He also said NPA rebels violated RA 7610, or the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation, and Discrimination Act.
“The communist terrorist organization deliberately abused not only her young and innocent mind but most of all her future; a heartless and inhumane act that only [the] communist terrorist group does,” Dolina said. “They are the true child abuse perpetrators who even forced the children to carry firearms and take part on the bloody armed struggle.”
Regin is expected to undergo psychosocial and stress debriefings before being reintroduced to mainstream society.
Last month, 17-year-old Efren ‘Ka Arnel’ Canumay surrendered to elements of the 302nd Infantry Brigade in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental.
The 3ID again reminded minors to stay in school and prioritize their studies instead of joining terrorist organizations.
“Be wary of the machinations of some groups,” Dolina warned. “Be wary of those who abuse your youthful idealism, agitating you with the social problems of our country, and dragging you into the armed struggle.”
“You can do more to help our country solve its problems in an environment of peace rather than through armed struggle,” Dolina added./DGB, WDJ