Two female minor members of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) voluntarily gave themselves up to government forces in Surigao del Norte province, citing difficulties in living in the jungles to evade the military.
Lt. Col. Eugenio Julio Osias IV, spokesman of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division (ID), said the girls, both aged 15 years old, gave themselves up to the Army’s 3rd Special Forces Battalion (SFB), accompanied by their relatives. The first one surrendered Thursday morning while the other one yesterday afternoon.
The two girls belonged to the Medic Team Baking Squad 1, Sandatahang Yunit sa Platun of the NPA’s front Guerrilla-16, North Eastern Mindanao regional party committee. They joined the NPA last July 6.
“Being young females, they were not able to endure the hunger and the hardships in the mountains while evading government troops. They said that they were duped into joining the armed struggle through text messages and were made to believed that they will have a better life,” Osias said.
“Both victims were taught the three NPA’s basic courses and were trained to fire a gun in order to kill,” he added.
Osias said the 4th ID will provide assistance to the two minors in order to help them return to schooling.
Lt. Col. Potenciano Camba, 3rd SFB commander, said the child-victims were subsequently turned over to the provincial social welfare office in Surigao del Norte. “We are also preparing scholarship grants to these young ladies,” Camba said.
The surrender of the two girls, Osias said, only confirmed the NPA’s continuing recruitment of minors to boost their dwindling ranks.
“This is another desperate attempt by the communists to beef up their ranks which has been dwindling as a result of our internal peace and security plan ‘Bayanihan,’” said Osias.
Meanwhile, two Army soldiers were killed and four others were hurt in a clash on Thursday between government forces and NPA guerrillas in Brgy. San Isidro, a remote village in Bulusan town in Sorsogon, an officer of the Philippine Army said Friday.
The incident took place at around 10 a.m. Thursday when Army troopers were on security patrol at the hinterlands of the village when they chanced upon a band of rebels, Army Maj. Harold Cabunoc, deputy Army spokesman, said.
A running firefight followed where two Army enlisted men were killed and four other soldiers were wounded, Cabunoc said.
The identities of the slain soldiers, who are members of the 31 Infantry Battalion in Sorsogon under Col. Theody Toribio, were not yet released pending notification of their families, Cabunoc said.
He said the NPA platoon was at an advantage point as they were on higher ground when the firefight occurred.
Cabunoc, quoting Toribio’s report, said a platoon of soldiers led by Lt. Abdul Hamid Salik where sent to check a reported communist encampment in the mentioned village. (with PNA)
Note: This article is written for the Manila Tribune by Mario Mallari. To read the original article, please follow this link: http://www.tribune.net.ph/index.php/nation/item/3965-two-teenage-girls-leave-reds