Two more members of the same New People’s Army’s Sub-Regional Committee 4 (SRC 4), Southern Mindanao Regional Command, turned themselves over to the 60th Infantry Battalion at its Charlie Company Command Post in Laak, Compostela Valley on Tuesday.
1Lt. Amadeuz VJ Celestial, the spokesperson of the 60th IB, said one of the two surrenderees, alias Annie, is only 17, who was allegedly recruited by alias Ka Coco, who was luring members of the Dibabawon tribe in Barangay Sta. Emelia, Veruela, Agusan del Sur last December 2017 when they chanced upon her.
Annie said she only joined the group out of curiosity and because Coco promised she can leave the group after a month.
Coco took Annie without even asking permission from her parents.
Annie, however, was never allowed to go back home.
She said Coco and her other comrades warned her that the military and the police are just waiting to capture and kill her. She stayed with the group for almost 10 months as a platoon medic and was even involved in an armed encounter in February this year.
Meanwhile, alias Raymond, now 19 years old, was also allegedly recruited when he was just 17. He attempted to surrender five times before his successful attempt last week. Raymond also worked as a medic and was wounded in the February clash with government troops.
Annie was brought to the local social welfare and development office for psychological debriefing and custody.
In his statement, Lt. Col. Gilbert Ombos, 60th IB commander, condemned the continued recruitment of minors and members of the indigenous people.
"No one—not our indigenous peoples, and especially not our children—should be forced to leave their homes and be caught in the middle of a war these communist-terrorists insist in waging,” he added.
The 60th IB opened its Balik-Loob Center in selected area of operations to accommodate rebels and their supporters who want to surrender.
Part of the center’s thrust is to aid surrenderees in claiming benefits under the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP).