Thursday, April 16, 2020

Army rescues 3 minors from NPA in Agusan Norte

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 16, 2020): Army rescues 3 minors from NPA in Agusan Norte (By Alexander Lopez)

CAPTURED. Troopers of the Army's 29th Infantry Battalion present to the Philippine National Police in Jabonga, Agusan del Norte the six New People’s Army members who were captured following an encounter on Monday (April 13, 2020). Three minors were also rescued from the rebel movement during the encounter. (Photo courtesy of 29IB)

Government troops rescued three minors and captured six members of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) after an encounter in the Agusan del Norte town of Jabonga early this week.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Army's 29th Infantry Battalion (29IB) said
the three minors were new recruits of the NPA in the area and were undergoing a "teach-in" when rescued by the government forces in Barangay Cuyago, Jabonga.

Lt. Col. Isagani O. Criste, 29IB commander,
identified the captured NPA members as Seljun A. Amol, 24; Junrell E. Balbero, 24; Jainie A. Alatraca, 21; Jhon T. Sayson, 21; Cristine P. Baghocan, 19; and James Jusua B. Amolo, 19.

The three minors were turned over to the Provincial Social Welfare and Development in Agusan del Norte for proper disposition.

Criste said Amol was identified by a former rebel as belonging to the NPA's Guerrilla Front 16-A who was tasked with the recruitment of young people in the area.

Balbero, meanwhile, has been linked to a political instructor under GF 16-A while Alatraca performed a non-combatant role for the NPA since 2015 and whose brother is an active NPA fighter.

Criste said Sayson, Baghocan, and Amolo were new recruits of the NPA in the area who also attended the teach-in when they were captured by the soldiers.

“We condemn the continued recruitment of minors by the NPA. They completely disregard the rights of the minors by making them combatants to join their fight against the government,” he said.

Criste also branded the NPA rebels as "selfish and insensitive for carrying out their extortion and recruitment activities despite the ceasefire they declared" amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) crisis.

He said Barangay Cuyago residents had alerted the government troops of the rebels in the area who were allegedly coercing the villagers to produce food and supplies for them.

“I do not know how many times we need to plead for the people to stop believing the NPA's lies. But I am sure of one thing, that we will never get tired of fulfilling our duty to protect our land and our people against the deadly virus that are these NPAs,” Criste said.

He also urged the remaining NPA combatants in Agusan del Norte and nearby provinces to surrender and avail of the livelihood programs of the government.

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