A 14-year-old child warrior of the New People’s Army (NPA) was rescued by the Philippine Army’s 10th Infantry Battalion on February 24, 2020, in Sitio Lamak, Barangay Mansawan, Don Victoriano Chongbian, Misamis Occidental.
Alias Bentong, a resident of Barangay Don Elino, Sergio Osmena, Zamboanga del Norte was sighted roaming in the area where he was tending his pasture.
The resident informed the nearby military detachment which immediately sent out troops to rescue Bentong.
In an initial interview, Bentong shared that he was recruited by his cousin in December 2018 when he was just 13 years old and later on joined Guerilla Front Sendong – Western Mindanao Regional Party Committee (WMRPC) operating in Zamboanga del Norte and Misamis Occidental.
He said he was left by his comrades in the forest of Mount Malindang which prompted him to search for the nearest community.
“This clearly shows that the Communist Terrorist Group is continuously violating the International Humanitarian Law (IHL) which prohibits the recruitment and use of children in hostilities,” said Col. Leonel Nicolas, commander of 102nd Infantry (IGSOON) Brigade, which has operational jurisdiction of Misamis Occidental.
Brig. Gen. Gene Ponio, commander of 1st Infantry (TABAK) Division lauds the troops of 10th Infantry (STEADY… ON) Battalion for its immediate response.
“We must remember that these individuals are also victims of deception and lies by the Communists Terrorist Groups, and in as much as we wanted to end this communist armed conflict in Western Mindanao, we must also stay grounded in protecting the lives of those we can save,” Ponio said.
“I am confident that our troops will continue to work tirelessly towards achieving the goal of creating a conducive environment for a just and lasting peace in our area of responsibility while being true to value the dignity of every person and guarantee the full respect for human rights,” Ponio said.
The rescued minor is now brought to Sergio Osmena Municipal Police Station and Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office for proper disposition and counseling. His parents were also notified of his whereabouts.