CAMP GEN EMILIO AGUINALDO, Quezon City (DWDD) – Five indigenous people (IP) including two minors were reunited with their guardians for the first time after being recruited by the communist terrorist New People’s Army (NPA) in August 2017.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) officially turned over the five teenagers whose identities were kept confidential in a simple ceremony held Thursday, July 26 at the Civil Relations Service AFP (CRSAFP) Conference Room in Camp Aguinaldo.
The two minors are 17 years old; two are 18 while the other is 19.
Colonel Antonio Francisco, the Deputy Commander of CRSAFP presided over the activity that was attended by representatives from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the newly-created Task Force ‘Balik-Loob’.
Before turning over to their guardians, medical officers of the Camp Aguinaldo Station Hospital conducted physical and medical examination to the former rebels to ensure their good physical and mental state. They will then be assisted by security personnel from the AFP as they return to their hometown in Bukidnon.
Aside from hardships, the IPs cited physical abuse as reasons for leaving the NPA. Four of them suffered physical abuse while in the armed group, being hit with a gun and a cable wire. The other contracted typhoid fever and was hospitalized for a week. All of them experienced lack of food and sleep, and were always on the run from military operations.
On July 5, 2018, the IPs voluntarily surrendered without firearms to personnel of 24th Infantry Battalion and Abra Provincial Police Office in the town of Licuan-Baay. They belong to the Manobo Tribe of San Fernando, Bukidnon. They said they were recruited by a certain Jeffrey Mandagit also known as ‘Jumboy’ –a known NPA member. They were told that they have to go to Manila and will be hired as piggery caretaker with a salary of P8,000 per month. They boarded a passenger ship from Cagayan de Oro to Manila. In Manila, Mandangit forced the IPs to join three mass protests/rallies with a promise that they could avail of a job after a week. However, they were subsequently sent to Abra and were forced to become full-time red fighters of the NPA’s Kilusang Larangang Gerilya (KLG) North Abra until their surrender in July 2018.
They also told the military that out of the 44 members of the KLG, 27 are IPs from Mindanao–a clear manifestation of the NPA’s exploitation and recruitment of indigenous people. The five former rebels were unaware that they were clearly victims of human trafficking, deception, and abuse by the NPA.
The AFP condemns these criminal acts by the communist terrorists which endanger the lives of our indigenous people, particularly the youth.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines facilitates the turnover of five Indigenous People (IP) former rebels to their guardians on Thursday, July 26 at the Civil Relations Service AFP Conference Room in Camp Aguinaldo. The IPs who are all teenagers (two of whom are minor) were illegally recruited by the New People’s Army in August 2017.
Two of five indigenous people–all teenagers–who surrendered to the Armed Forces of the Philippines after being illegally recruited by the New People’s Army, finally reunites with their guardians.
ALS / AES / MCAG