The father of a 16-year old girl, who was recruited in Iloilo Province and sexually abused by a commander of the New People’s Army (NPA), on March 23, 2021, condemned the atrocities of the terrorist group.
The man, whose name was withheld for security reasons, said that amid the threat, he decided to surrender his daughter to the 61st Infantry Battalion (61IB) of the Philippine Army (PA) on March 18 for his family’s safety.
In a press conference on Tuesday, he shared that, last year, his daughter sought permission to look for work to help the family.
While he didn’t want her to go because she is too young to work, yet he could not stop her. His daughter failed to come home for six months after she went out to search for a job.
The father works on a farm while the mother is a housewife.
He only learned that she joined the NPA when several members of the rebel group slept in their house and told him about the young girl’s recruitment to the communist movement.
That night, the group promised that his daughter would be home by December 2020, which did not happen.
On March 18, his daughter was able to escape and shared her hardships of always running from authorities. Not only they were not properly nourished but she was also a victim of sexual abuse.
“Kon indi ikaw mangisog, duro pa nga mga pamatan-on ang bul-on nanda. Ang ginapangayo o ang safety sang akon pamilya (If I did not muster the courage to surrender her, they will continue to recruit more youths. What I am asking is the safety of my family),” he said.
As he went emotional with his testimony, he said that no parent would allow that their child will fall prey to such useless group.
“Bantayan nyo mga bata nyo kay may mga itom dila diri na maayo gid maghaylo sa inyo mga bata ( Keep an eye on your children because there are people with evil tongues who are good at convincing your children),” he advised the parents.
The NPA promised that they would support his daughter in her studies until college and would even give her a salary of PHP4,000.
“Kabaylo ka apat ka libo na ang 40 kilos na nga ginabitbit kada adlaw (In exchange for the PHP4,000 was the 40 kilograms that she has to carry every day),” he said, while he did not give details, he said that his daughter once joined an encounter with the government troops.
Police Staff Sgt. (PSSgt) Gracel Joy Villanueva, the investigator of the case, said that “Nene” (the girl’s pseudonym) shared “they were always hungry and there were times they were beaten by firearms. A member of the group even attempted to rape her”.
“Nene” had planned to leave the group due to hardships but she was threatened with being beheaded and the rebels even warned to harm her family.
Villanueva added that “Nene” also relayed to her that 16 more recruits wanted to leave the movement.
Col. Joel Benedict G. Batara, commanding officer of the 61IB, said “Nene’s” family would be provided with security.
The victim is now in the custody of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
“We will do our best to provide security to the family of ‘Nene’. I will not go into (the) details (of) how we will secure the family, but it is not just the Army that will give them security. This is again a multi-stakeholder approach. This is a package of security,” he said.
“Nene” executed her judicial affidavit on Tuesday attended by the DSWD staff.
Batara said proper cases will be filed and they are just completing the affidavit of “Nene” and her father. They will also be filing a complaint before the regional office of the Commission on Human Rights.
Raji Alvarado of the DSWD regional office and at the same time secretariat of the Regional Sub-Committee for the Welfare of Children in Western Visayas said aside from the psycho-social intervention, their office would be extending aid to the girl under the Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS) aside from educational assistance.
Since the victim is a minor and her situation can be classified as a trafficked person, her family can also avail of livelihood assistance and other provisions based on the needs of the child.
Alvarado added that they would also intensify their programs to be able to reach out to less fortunate families, the common target of NPA recruitment.
She said that they also would like to heighten the awareness on Republic Act 11188 or the Special Protection for Children in Situations of Armed Conflict on how to prevent the children from being recruited.
The Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) 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)