A man and his minor son who both admitted to be members of the New People's Army (NPA) have laid down their arms and surrendered to authorities following intense combat operations in Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental, the military disclosed Monday.
Citing security reasons, the military identified the surrendered rebels only through their aliases "Joker," 40, a Yunit Militia fighter; and "Jacking," 16, a medical officer for the Sentro De Gravidad (SDG) Platoon of the Central Negros Front 2.
Joker and Jacking relinquished their caliber .38 pistol and caliber .30 sniper rifle to elements of the Philippine Army's 94th Infantry Battalion (94IB) in Barangay Buenavista last Friday.
In his native dialect, Joker told the military that the series of encounters between the Army and NPA in the hinterlands of Himamaylan, Binalbagan, and Kabankalan City recently prompted him to surrender out of fear for his son's safety.
Just last October 7, a suspected communist rebel was killed while two others were arrested in an armed encounter between elements of the 94IB and NPA in Barangag Bi-ao, Binalbagan town.
Several high-powered firearms and various ammunition were also seized by 94IB troopers and soldiers from the 11th Infantry Battalion during a clashed with suspected NPA rebels in Barangay Tan-awan, Kabankalan City on September 18.
Meanwhile, four alleged NPA rebels were captured in a separate encounter in Sitio Cunalom, Barangay Carabalan, Himamaylan City last August 27.
"I know that the Army will catch up with them pretty soon and I can't afford to see my young son die. He deserves to realize his ambitions in life," Joker said.
Joker said Jacking joined the underground movement when he was 11 years olf.
He added that his son was with the NPA rebels who figured in a fierce firefight with 94IB troopers in Sitio Tugas, Barangay Carabalan, Himamaylan City last April 19 where three soldiers were killed.
Lieutenant Colonel Angelo Guzman, commander of 94IB, vowed to facilitate Joker and Jacking's application to the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (ECLIP) where they can avail various government assistance including livelihood, financial, and educational assistance among others.
Meanwhile, Brig. Gen. Noel Baluyan, commander of 302nd Infantry Brigade (302IBgde), commended the accomplishment of the battalion, and slammed the NPA for recruuting child warriors to fight the government.
"Children, like Jacking and many others like him, do not belong in the warzones. They do not deserve to live in violence and fear. They belong in the safety of their homes and communities. They belong in schools that would educate them so they have a brighter future," Baluyan said.
"We condemn the CNT's (CPP-NPA terrorist) recruitment of child soldiers consistent with the principles of the International Humanitarian Law and laws pertaining to the protection of children in the armed conflict," he added.