A former guerrilla who was recruited by the communist New People’s Army (NPA) when she was 14 is now a proud mother of a baby boy.
1Lt. Roel T. Maglalang, civil-military operations officer of the Army’s 23rd Infantry Battalion (23IB), said Karla — whose identity is being withheld for security reasons — surrendered in March last year with the help of Agusan del Norte 2nd District Rep. Ma. Angelica Amante-Matba.
“She was recruited by the NPA when she was 14-years-old in 2015. She was made to believe that they will help her finish her studies when she joined the armed group,” Maglalang told Philippine News Agency on Friday.
Maglalang said Karla became a regular NPA fighter at the age of 17 and was assigned as squad medic of Guerrilla Front 4A of the NPA’s North Central Mindanao Regional Committee.
“Alias Karla, after four years with the NPA, finally gave up as she could no longer stand the hardships, starvation, and distress. She was also disillusioned for their failure to provide her with education as promised, and realized the waste of time she had with the NPA in four years,” Maglalang said.
Upon her surrender to the government last year, “Karla” stayed at the “Masigasig Happy Home” inside the headquarters of the 23IB, which serves as temporary shelter for former rebels.
It was during her stay at the temporary shelter that she met her husband and the couple decided to exchange vows during a mass wedding held on December 18 last year inside the 23IB headquarters.
In a statement on Thursday (April 2), 23IB commander Lt. Col. Francisco L. Molina Jr. said Karla’s experience was “a concrete proof that the soldiers of 23IB, in coordination with the different line government agencies, are sincere with their promises of helping the former rebels who choose to abandon the armed struggle.”
“We will do our best to address your needs in order for you to live a new life with the help of the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) of the government,” he added.
Molina also urged the remaining NPA rebels in Agusan del Norte, especially the women, to “open their eyes and think wisely. Do not succumb to the sexual desires of the NPA cadres. You deserve to be loved and taken care of. Go back to the folds of the law. Your bright future is still waiting for you here.”
In the same statement on Thursday, Karla was quoted as saying that she owes a debt of gratitude to the 23IB and Rep. Amante-Matba for the support she received when she decided to change her life for good.
“The treatment of the communists NPA was far different compared to how the soldiers and the government treated me. Aside from the benefits I received under the E-CLIP, they helped me live a normal life together with my new family,” she said.
Karla was brought by the 23IB soldiers to Butuan City Medical Hospital where she gave birth to a healthy baby boy on March 24, 2020.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. (Alexander Lopez, PNA)