ZAMBOANGA

Troops rescue NPA child warrior

TROOPS have rescued a New People's Army (NPA) child warrior who was abandoned in the province of Misamis Occidental, officials said Tuesday, February 25.

Colonel Leonel Nicolas, Army's 102nd Infantry Brigade commander, said the NPA child warrior, identified only as a certain Bentong, 14, was rescued Monday, February 24, in Sitio Lamak in the village of Mansawan, Don Victoriano Chongbian, Misamis Occidental.

The rescue was made after residents of Mansawan saw him and told members of the Army's 10th Infantry Battalion about it.

Bentong said he was left by his comrades in the forest of Mount Malindang, prompting him to search for the nearest community.

"This clearly shows that the communist terrorist group is continuously violating the International Humanitarian Law (IHL), which prohibits the recruitment and use of children in hostilities," Nicolas said.

He said Bentong, a resident of the village of Don Elino, Sergio Osmena, Zamboanga del Norte, informed them that he was recruited by his cousin in December 2018 when he was just 13 years old.

Bentong later joined the Guerilla Front Sendong-Western Mindanao Regional Party Committee (WMRPC) operating in Zamboanga del Norte and Misamis Occidental provinces.

Bentong was brought to Sergio Osmena Municipal Police Station and Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office for proper disposition and counseling.

His parents have already been notified about his whereabouts.

Meanwhile, Major General Generoso Ponio, Army's 1st Infantry Division commander, lauded members of the 10th Infantry Battalion for their immediate response and display of professionalism.

"We must remember that these individuals are also victims of deception and lies by the communists terrorist groups, and in as much as we wanted to end this communist armed conflict in Western Mindanao, we must also stay grounded in protecting the lives of those we can save," Ponio said.

"I am confident that our troops will continue to work tirelessly towards achieving the goal of creating a conducive environment for a just and lasting peace in our area of responsibility while being true to value the dignity of every person and guarantee the full respect for human rights," he added. (SunStar Zamboanga)


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