Sunday, June 7, 2020

Soldiers Rescue Another Minor NPA

NSFA, Panacan, Davao City - “It's becoming clearer and clearer that the NPAs here in Mindanao are becoming desperate by the minute.”

This was the reaction of Lt. Gen Jose C. Faustino Jr. as he was informed by the Joint Task Force (JTF) AGILA Commander, MGen. Reuben S. Basiao that another minor New People's Army (NPA) was rescued by the elements of 3rd Infantry Battalion (IB) troops after a brief 30-minute firefight against a group of NPA at Sitio Pinanubuan, Barangay Sinuda, Kitaotao, Bukidnon, in the late afternoon of June 5, 2020.

The 17-year old identified as alias “Nina” was wounded on the left thigh and lower right leg. She gave up on pursuing troops after she was abandoned by her group who scampered to different directions.

Recovered from her possession were an International Humanitarian Law banned improvised landmine and a hand grenade.

“It is a miracle that she was found by our forces. An hour late could have been fatal as she could have died due to loss of blood,” Lt. Gen. Faustino added.

Accordingly, Nina was recruited when she was still 15 years old by an NPA uncle and trained as a combatant at the “Salugpungan School” at Sitio Nasilaban, Brgy. Palma Gil, Talaingod, Davao del Norte sometime in 2018.

The Salugpungan schools have proliferated in the hinterlands of Talaingod from the mid-'90s to 2019 but these have now been banned by local authorities after series of complaints from Indigenous Communities and parents, saying that these schools have become a laboratory for future NPA cadres & militants.

With the dwindling mass bases and relevance, the NPA in Mindanao are recruiting minors and students to beef up their ranks sometimes using these types of schools as covers.

As a matter of protocol mandated by the International Humanitarian Law and Republic Act 11188 or the "Special Protection of Children in Situations of Armed Conflict Act," the said NPA was immediately given medical first aid by the troops before bringing her to a German Hospital in Buda, Marilog District, Davao City and was later transferred to the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) for surgery.

While on evacuation, coordinations also were undertaken to the local Social Welfare Office of Kitaotao, Bukidnon, and the Philippine National Police for proper intervention and custody.

Meanwhile, no one was hurt from the government side during the clash and there were no reported civilians displaced as a consequence of the incident.

"It will take a while for Nina to adjust to normal life as she has just undergone surgery. Wounds heal but the trauma still exists, but just like hundreds of NPA minors who have been rescued & who surrendered to the government, Nina will surely live her dreams and explore her talents and potentials away from the clutches of her former comrades," Lt. Gen. Faustino said.

Source: Public Information Office, Eastern Mindanao Command, AFP

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