KIDAPAWAN CITY – A 13-year-old boy, who claimed to be a member of a communist front operating in North Cotabato, surrendered to a village chief in Magpet town Tuesday.

Barangay Mahongkog chief Godfrey Acupan said Maximo (not his real name) surrendered to him minutes after the armed confrontation between the government troops and the so-called Black Fighters group in Sitio Tulay, Barangay Mahongkog, Magpet town around 1:50 p.m. last Tuesday.

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The Black Fighters group was reportedly a breakaway faction of the New People's Army (NPA) operating in the hinterland villages of the province.

The gunbattle ensued after the troops, acting on tips from villagers, went to check the presence of the rebels in the village.

Maximo, who was said to be child combatant, was seen in the company of the rebels, said Acupan.

After the encounter, the rebels fled and took two of their wounded members but abandoned Maximo.

The boy told Acupan he could no longer take the beatings of a certain Rex Ansabo, who allegedly was among the 40 inmates that had escaped from the Amas Provincial Jail here in February 2007.

Rex Ansabo is the youngest brother of Ibon Ansabo, who heads the Black Fighters group, and who happens to be Maximo’s brother in law, the boy said.

The boy added that after Rex Ansabo has escaped from prison, he joined his brothers Samante and Ibon in organizing the Black Fighters group, whose members were mostly former NPA rebels operating in Magpet town.

The Ansabo brothers of the Black Fighters group are members of a Bagobo tribe.

Maximo also told Acupan, the police, and the military that he witnessed the killing of a certain Jimmy Kelario at Sitio Natayukan, also in Barangay Mahongkog, Magpet.

Kelario was shot while sleeping inside his hut in August 5 this year. Taken from the victim was his 12-gauge shotgun.

Acupan said the Black Fighters group is engaged in cattle rustling, theft and robbery, killing of innocent farmers, and harassment of civilians in Barangay Mahongkog.

Inspector Glenn Alegado, Magpet police chief, said the members of the Black Fighters group are now the subject of a manhunt operation. Maximo, meanwhile, is under the police chief’s custody.

Alegado said he will turn over the boy to the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office in Amas Complex, this city. (Malu Cadelina Manar of Sun.Star Davao/Sunnex)