Thursday, September 9, 2021

Troops kill 4 NPAs, capture 9 others, including boy warrior

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY - Government troops clashed with communist insurgents, killing at least four gunmen and capturing nine others, including a child warrior in fierce fighting in the southern Philippine province of Bukidnon, officials said Thursday.

Army Lt. Gen. Greg Almerol, chief of the Eastern Mindanao Command, branded Wednesday’s fighting as a “decisive engagement” against the New People’s Army (NPA) in the village of Mabuhay in San Fernando town. He said two of those captured were also wounded in the clashes, but had been given first aid by soldiers and rushed them to hospital to save the lives of the rebels.

Almerol did not give details about the child warrior except that his age is 12-years old and was immediately handed over to municipal social workers.

He condemned the NPA for continuously recruiting and using children to fight the government which is a violation of the International Humanitarian Law, and at the same time putting their lives at grave risk.  

“The CPP-NPA-NDF should stop their madness of recruiting children into the armed struggle. If they really have hearts, then they should know better that those children have no place in the battle. They are meant to flourish and live their dreams,” Almerol said in a statement sent to the Mindanao Examiner.

Almerol said members of the 88th Infantry Battalion clashed with rebel forces for about an hour. There was no report of military casualties, he said, adding troops also recovered 16 automatic rifles, including AK-47s.

He said the fighting broke out after troops - guided by civilian information – tracked down a group of 20 rebels extorting money from villagers. He commended villagers “who were quick to provide vital and timely information on the presence of the armed group pestering the residents with their unscrupulous activities such as recruitment of ill-informed local townsfolk and harassing ordinary citizens.”

“This is proof of the people’s genuine intent to help the government in its crusade for peace and in pushing the end of the local communist armed conflict in their communities,” he said.

Almerol also urged rebels to peacefully surrender and take advantage of the government’s amnesty program. “Now is the best time to surrender as the government has already designed programs that will help you to start a new life through the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program or E-CLIP,” he said.

E-CLIP is a peace-building and social protection program that provides interventions to former NPA members and become productive citizens of society. It offers livelihood and financial assistance to all rebels who opted to abandon the armed struggle and surrender peacefully to the government. (Mindanao Examiner)

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