A BROKEN promise prompted alias Junjun, 18, a rebel returnee, to surrender along with alias Rose, 15, to the authorities last week after the New People’s Army (NPA) fail to grant their pledge to send them back to school, which initially lured them to join the rebel ranks.
Appearing on Wednesday, April 19 before the media during Armed Forces of the Philippines-Philippine National Police press forum at The Royal Mandaya Hotel, Junjun said they decided to leave the communist movement after realizing the apparent deception of the rebels of helping them and taking advantage of their innocence to advance their cause.
He said while he was still with NPA, he was the squad leader under the Pulang Bagani Company 4 that conducts operations in Monkayo and Kapalong.
He said he was promised to be able to go to school at Haran House in Davao City in 2013, when he was just 15 years old. He only finished Grade 3, which motivated him to go with them but things turned out differently.
Instead, they were made to join rallies in Manila for a month and when they returned back to Mindanao, he was recruited in the guerilla front to be combatants and was also involved in the burning of equipment and engaged in several firefights with the army.
Junjun, who is an Ata Manobo from Kapalong, Davao del Norte, realized that he was nowhere near getting the education he wanted, which drove him and his girlfriend Rose, to return to the folds of the law.
He still wants to go to school.
Philippine Army’s 10th Infantry Division spokesperson Captain Rhyan Batchar said they are willing to assist the surrenderees in reintegrating their lives to the mainstream society.
The two are now under custody of the 60th Infantry Batallion based in Asuncion, Davao del Norte, where their debriefing process is still ongoing with the help of the social workers of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
Batchar condemned the continuous recruitment of minors by the NPA to join their activities and later engage them in gun battle, which is a clear violation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Right and International Humanitarian Law that prohibits the recruitment of children as combatants.
“[It is] very depressing on our part that the NPA is still recruiting minors and even using them to conduct atrocities. Based on his revelation, he was used to burn down equipment somewhere in Compostela Valley,” Batchar said.