A child warrior recruited by the New People’s Army (NPA) was rescued by elements of the Philippine Army’s (PA) 10th Infantry Battalion in Sitio Lamak, Barangay Mansawan, Don Victoriano Chongbian, Misamis Occidental, according to the military.
Identified as “Bentong,” the 14-year-old combatant’s rescue was prompted by resident information received by security forces of his whereabouts.
Bentong was recruited from rebels by his cousin in December 2018. He joined the communist terrorist guerilla front Sendong — Western Mindanao Regional Party Committee (WMRPC) operating in Zamboanga del Norte and Misamis Occidental.
According to him, he was left alone by his comrades in the forest of Mount Malindang, which forced him to flee to the nearest community to survive.
“This is a big achievement towards peace and progress by saving the lives of our children who were manipulated and abused by communist terrorists,” Lt. General Cirilito Sobejana, Western Mindanao Command chief, said.
“We are calling the parents of Bentong and other children who have been recruited by the CTs, as well as the peace-loving people of Mindanao, to unite in fighting against the communist terrorist NPA,” he added.
In a separate development, elements of the PA unearthed arms caches of the NPA in two separate operations in the province of Davao de Oro and Sarangani, the military reported Wednesday.
The first repository was discovered by troops from the 66th Infantry Battalion in an isolated part of Barangay Manurigao, New Bataan, Davao de Oro on Tuesday.
The cache, traced based on tips from civilian residents and the confirmation of two former rebel leaders, contained four M16 rifles, one M14 rifle, two AK47 rifles, one Garand rifle, one Carbine rifle and two M203 grenade launchers.
“While we are focusing on pursuing those who continue the armed struggle, let us continue to support the peace initiatives of our local government unit counterparts so that, hand-in-hand, we can sustain the peace gains we have achieved the previous year,” Maj. Gen. Jose Faustino Jr., Eastern Mindanao Command chief, said.
He then urged all units to continue exerting efforts in helping the government end the communist armed conflict in the country.