TWO young female fighters of the New People's Army (NPA) have laid down their arms and surrendered to the government in Surigao del Sur last week.

The Army's 75th Infantry Battalion (75IB) facilitated the surrender of alias Je-an, 16, and alias Joy, 17, at the headquarters of the 75IB in Barangay Magroyong, San Miguel in Surigao del Sur.

Alias Je-an was the medic of Squad 2, Platoon 2, Guerilla Front 30 of the North Eastern Mindanao Regional Committee (NEMRC), while alias Joy was a member of Squad 3 of SRSDG Southland, NEMRC.

The two teen rebels yielded two AK47 Rifle and six magazines loaded with 50 rounds of cal. 7.62mm ammunitions.

Major General Romeo Brawner Jr., commander of 4th Infantry Division (4ID), lambasted the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)-NPA terrorist (CNTs) leaders for continuously recruiting minors and dragging them into an armed struggle.

"Je-an was recruited when she was 14 years old, while Joy was then 16 years old. Clearly, the CNTs have no regard of the children’s welfare by continuously exposing them to grave danger especially in the company of armed men, deceiving them through false promises and exploiting their innocent young minds," Brawner said.

According to the records of 4ID, alias Je-an and Joy are the 71st and 72nd child soldiers who were rescued by the government troops.

"We shall file a case against the CTG leaders who recruited Je-an and Joy in clear violation of Republic Act 9851 (Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide, and Other Crimes Against Humanity) and Republic Act 11188 (Special Protection of Children in Situations of Armed Conflict Act)," Brawner said.

"We will also refer this case to the CHR so that these terrorists will be held fully accountable and responsible under the international humanitarian law," he added.

According to Je-an, she sought help from the soldier under the 75IB because her mother cried and begged her to leave the terrorist group.

She added that she decided to run away due to exhaustion, hunger, and fear for her life.

Alias Joy, on the other hand, said that she was recruited by the rebel group when she was a third year student of the Alternative Learning Center and Development, a CTG front organization.

Joy said she laid low after being wounded in an encounter with the troops of the third Special Forces Battalion at Sitio Paradise, Barangay Magsaysay, Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur on December 18, 2020.

Brawner appealed to the rebel group to stop recruiting minors, saying they disregarded the International Humanitarian Law, which defines therein the prohibition of utilizing children in an armed conflict.

"Children must at all times be protected and to let them enjoy their youth with their family and friends," Brawner said.

"Unlike the CNTs who exploit children, your Army together with different LGAs and LGUs under the E-Clip committee will take good care of Je-an, while Joy will be referred to Camp Evangelista Station Hospital for proper medical treatment of her wound. The E-CLIP benefits shall give Je-an and Joy better times free from violence and terror that the CTG had exposed them to," he added.