By Mike Crismundo
CAMP BANCASI, Butuan City – Six alleged members of the Communist New People’s Army (NPA) were captured, while three minors were rescued, after a series of encounters with troops of the Army’s 29th Infantry (Matatag) Battalion (29th IB) in Barangay Cuyago, Jabonga, Agusan del Norte, the military reported Friday.
First Lt. Miguel O. Borromeo, Civil Military Operations (CMO) officer of the 29th IB, told The Manila Bulletin on Friday that the series of encounters took place despite the continuous violation of the CPP (Communist Party of the Philippines)-NPA, of its own unilateral ceasefire on Monday, April 13.
Identities of the captured NPAs and rescued minors were temporarily withheld pending tactical interrogation.
The captured NPAs were recruiters and members of Sandatahang Yunit Pampropaganda 16-A (SYP 16-A) of the CPP-NPA Northeastern Mindanao Regional Party Committee (NEMRC), the 29th CMO officer said.
The NPAs have been recruiting minors for some time and have continued their recruitment activities despite the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID -19) pandemic.
“The military has unceasingly condemned the NPAs’ continuous recruitment of minors as combatants to join their Godless armed struggle against the government,” Borromeo added.
This strategy of the Communist terrorists was a manifestation of their complete disregard for the rights of the minors as well as a violation of the provisions of the International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and the Republic Act 7610 (Special Protection of Children against Abuse Exploitation and Discrimination Act), according to 29th IB Commander Lt. Col. Isagani O. Criste.
”We can see how selfish and insensitive these NPAs are. That while everyone is exerting all their best efforts to solve problems related to the COVID-19 pandemic, these NPAs are busy persisting in their evil deeds recruiting people including minors. Is this what they call assistance to these people? They are deceiving young minds and leading them to a desolate and desperate life,” the 29th IB commander said.
The captured rebels were presented to Jabonga Mayor Napoleon M. Montero, and then brought to the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office for inquest proceedings, where they were charged with multiple attempted murder and violation of RA 9516, he said.
“They were then detained at Jabonga Municipal Police Station while the three rescued minors were confined at the Provincial Social Welfare and Development (PSWD) of Agusan Del Norte facilities at ‘Bahay Pag- Asa’ in the municipality of Tubay and Home for the Girls in Butuan City, the 29th IB commander added.