19 CIAC surrender in Masbate as influx of surrendering CTG members continues

A total of 19 “children involved in armed conflict” (CIAC) voluntarily surrendered to the authorities in Barangay Balete, Aroroy, Masbate on Saturday, July 17.

Those who surrendered included a 12-year-old, two 13-year-olds, six 14-year-olds, four 15-year-olds, two 16-year-olds, three 17-year-olds and a 19-year-old.

According to one of those who surrendered, it was March 2020 when they were invited to join an excursion but they were shocked that they would be indoctrinated by CTG members.

“Pagkatapos po ng isang buwan, binigyan na nila ako ng “Ang Bayan” newsletter tapos ibigay ko raw po sa mga kasama ko pero hindi ko naman po binigay sa kanila. Tinago ko po,” said by one of the CIAC who surrendered.

“Sila ay nilinlang ng mga miyembro ng CTG at sapilitang nirecruit. Malinaw itong paglabag sa batas at paglapastangan sa karapatan ng mga kabataan,” said Lt. Col. Siegfried Awichen, Battalion Commander of the 2nd Infantry Battalion (2IB).

Under RA 9851 or the Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide, and Other Crimes Against Humanity, the recruitment of minors to join any type of armed group is strictly prohibited.

It is also strictly prohibited in RA 11188 or the Special Protection of Children in Situations of Armed Conflict Act which also states that so-called children involved in armed conflict (CIAC) are any minor who is forced to join an armed group.

As a result, Col. Aldwine Almase, Brigade Commander of the 903rd Infantry Brigade, explicitly condemned CTG on continuing to deceive young people.

“Walang matinong tao o grupo ang magrerecruit ng mga kabataan para isali sa armadong tunggalian. Si Keith Absalon, gaya ng marami pang kabataan, ay walang awa nilang pinatay, ngayon naman ay isa na namang katotohanan ang lumantad sa kanilang walang pakundangang pagyurak sa kinabukasan ng mga kabataan sa Masbate. Tapos sasabihin ng CTG na kakampi sila ng mamamayan pero hindi nila pinahahalagahan ang buhay ng mga kabataang ito. Bata pa, gusto na nilang sirain ang kinabukasan at gawing miyembro ng walang katuturang teroristang grupo,” said Col. Almase.

Meanwhile, Police Regional Office 5 (PRO-5) led by PBGen Jonnel C. Estomo ensured the immediate processing of the multi-layered case against the CTG members responsible for recruiting the said minors.

“Hindi tayo papayag na hindi mahuli, makulong at maparusahan ang mga communist terrorist na nanlinlang sa mga batang ito. Kailangan nilang makulong para wala ng iba pang mga kabataang mabiktima ng kanilang modus,” said PBGen. Estomo.

According to MGen Henry A. Robinson Jr. PA, Commander of the Joint Task Force (JTF) Bicolandia, the continued surrender of CTG members especially the 19 youths is the result of the cooperation of the Masbateños with the authorities especially the parents who caring for their children.

“Hindi na bulag ang mga kabataan sa totoong kulay ng CTG. Isa pa, ang mga kabataang Bicolano ay matatalino at batid nilang may mahalaga at malaking papel silang gagampanan sa lipunan. Alam nilang ang mga kabataan ay dapat na nag-aaral at nagsisikap para sa kanilang mga pangarap at hindi namumundok para humawak ng armas at labanan ang pamahalaan. Nagpapasalamat tayo sa mga magulang ng mga kabataang ito na hindi hinayaang tuluyang malihis ng landas ang kanilang mga anak. Patuloy po tayong magtulungan para puksain ang CTG at wakasan ang insurhensya sa Bicol,” said MGen. Robinson.

Apart from the said youths, seven other CTG members, including a regular NPA member, surrendered in Barangay Concepcion in the same town. They also surrendered seven low-caliber guns.

It will be recalled that since CTG assassinated FEU football player Kieth Absalon and his cousin Nolven, CTG members and supporters in Masbate have relentlessly surrendered including the largest number of surrenderers on June 18-28 which hit 505.

JTF Bicolandia is confident that many more will return to the government in conjunction with the government’s intensified campaign for peace and development in collaboration with the Army, PNP and the Bicolanos.

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