A 16-year-old member of the New People’s Army (NPA) from Iloilo Province has surrendered to the 61st Infantry Battalion (61IB) of the Philippine Army (PA) and claimed that she was sexually abused by a ranking member of the terrorist group.
Col. Joel Benedict Batara, commanding officer of the 61IB, said that alias “Nene” (not her real name), who was in her six-month in the organization, escaped while the rebels were temporarily camped in a mountainous area in Miagao, Iloilo on March 18.
“She was one of those deceived and recruited. They promised to send her to school and to a certain point, it has motivated her because of poverty,” Batara said in an interview on Saturday.
He said the father already had an idea that her daughter was being recruited to the movement but he did not expect that it would be too soon.
Nene just came home one day, after going out for an errand, with a group of armed individuals who are members of the NPA.
Since then, Nene did not return home until March 18, when she got the chance to escape together with two other members.
She went directly to their house, accompanied by her father and their barangay captain, she proceeded to surrender.
Her address was withheld for safety reasons, however, Batara said their place in the province’s First District is considered as a mass base of the communist terrorist group (CTG) or an “influenced-barangay”.
Nene, he said, is in a safe place together with her parents. She is also undergoing psycho-social debriefing.
Her case has been reported to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Philippine National Police-Violence Against Women and Children’s Desk.
According to Batara, Nene, while detailing her ordeal, said her comrade whom she identified as “Ka Victor” twice attempted to rape her.
He said that Nene was not the only one sexually abused. She revealed that nine of her female comrades, mostly minors, are pregnant.
“Their men comrades are taking advantage of their women. Most of those pregnant are minors who also came from influenced barangays,” Batara said.
He added that the pregnant NPA members also wanted to leave the movement but they could not escape due to fear.
The case of Nene proved the human rights violations committed by NPA leaders, especially males who took advantage of their female members.
“Our next action is to have her judicial affidavit to be able to file a case against those responsible and we will file a complaint before the Commission on Human Rights in Region 6,” he said.
Nene is the first minor to surrender this year but Batara said they expect more surrenderers from the Second District of the province as well.
He added parents are reminded to instill in their children awareness on deceptions of the NPA.
The Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA), which has been waging a five-decade armed struggle against the government, is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (Perla Lena, PNA)