A former rebel who confessed to having been sexually abused in her teenage years by leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) draws inspiration from her child to continue her life in straight path amid her past.
“Noong nagkaroon ako ng baby mas lalo ako nagsumikap. Noong nagtrabaho na ako as a social worker sa isang non-government organization para sa mga dating rebelde, doon ko nakita na ayoko maranasan pinagdaanan ng mga ina na nawalan ng anak dahil sa pagsali sa CPP-NPA. At ayoko din danasin ng anak ko ang mga pinagdaanan ko sa kilusan (When I had a baby, the more that I persevered. When I started working as a social worker for a non-government organization (NGO) for former rebels, I realized that I do not want to go through the suffering of mothers who have lost their children, because of joining the CPP-NPA. And I also do not want my child to experience what I had when I was in the group),” Lady Desiree Miranda said in an interview on Wednesday.
Miranda, 24, recalled she was just a 14-year-old out-of-school youth when she was recruited by a militant-activist group.
“They used the issues of education and poverty to lure me,” she said.
Miranda said she used to be the spokesperson in high school communities rallying the recruitment of the terrorist group through their unit posing as militant-activist groups.
“When I turned 18, I formally became part of the CPP-NPA, and that is when the sexual abuses started,” she added.
A year after, Miranda said, she was assessed by the leaders to be suffering from mental health issues.
Aside from the sexual abuses she was going through at that time, some of their members were killed in clashes with government forces.
“Matinding stress. Demoralized na ako. Sabi nila may mental health problem na ako. Pinaalis ako para di rin ma-demoralize ang ibang mga kasapi. Ganoon talaga kapag wala ka ng pakinabang sa kanila (I went through extreme stress. I was demoralized. They said I have a mental health problem. They sent me away to prevent the other members to be demoralized as well. That’s the way it is when you are no longer useful to them),” she said.
Miranda said she was asked to stay at a house while she was promised to be checked by a psychologist or a doctor.
She was told not to go home directly to her family as she was made to believe that the military would harm her if she ever encountered them.
“I waited for four months. Their visits to me were seldom until they no longer contacted me. So I decided to go home to my family. My father arranged for my surrender to the government. They coordinated me first with the barangay officials and then to the military unit. Contrary to what I was taught, there was no harassment in my surrender,” she added.
She claimed government agencies, through the National Task Force To End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NFL-ELCAC), helped her until she found a job.
Miranda first worked as an assistant at a golf course and eventually in 2020, she landed a job as a social worker in a non-governmental organization (NGO) for former rebels.
She then fell in love with a former rebel, and they now have a child.
“What I learned is that if we wanted to solve poverty and other social issues, it should be the right way, without putting at risk the lives of other people. It should begin in us. For if we are better, then we can help our families, then our communities,” she said.
Miranda said she wanted to make up for her family for the time she was away fighting for the wrong ideology.
“Madami akong pagkukulang sa pamilya ko. Kailangan kong bumawi (I have a lot of shortcomings to my family. I need to make up for it),” she said.
She said she advocates now to prevent the youth from joining the CPP-NPA by coming out and sharing her story.
“To be a hope to our motherland, it should begin in our own family,” she added.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (Hilda Austria, PNA)