VICTIM OF ABUSE. 'Shane' (not her real name), 17, a former New People's Army child warrior, speaks to reporters during a press conference in Calubian, Leyte. The victim filed on Thursday (Oct. 29, 2020) a rape complaint against their former commander in the communist terrorist group before the prosecutor’s office. (Photo courtesy of the Philippine Army)

TACLOBAN CITY – A former child warrior of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army CPP-(NPA) on Thursday filed a rape complaint against their former commander in the terrorist group.

Accompanied by lawyers and Army officials, "Shane" (not her real name), 17, filed the complaint before the prosecutor’s office in Calubian, Leyte against Paterno Opo alias "Dodong", commander of the NPA sub-regional committee operating in Leyte and Biliran provinces.

“I suffered in the hands of our supposed superior when I was only 15 years old in the mountains of Calubian, Leyte in July 2018. This incident continues to haunt me until today and I want to seek justice,” Shane said during a press conference at the Calubian town hall.

Shane and her older sister "Ruffa" voluntarily surrendered on June 12 to officials of the Army's 14th Infantry Battalion based in Kananga, Leyte.

Their parents are also NPA rebels, who reportedly disagreed with the sisters’ plan to yield to government troops out of fear. Two of their younger brothers are also rebels.

“We were so frightened to surrender because our commander threatened to rape, torture, or kill us, but we got the chance to escape when we were asked to collect food in a nearby community,” Ruffa, a former NPA finance officer, told reporters. "When we surrendered, I thought it was the end of our life, but the soldiers fed us and provided us shelter."

Shane’s family hails from Hilongos, Leyte but they operated with the CPP-NPA's Platoon 1, Sub Regional Committee Levox, Eastern Visayas Regional Party Committee in northwest Leyte.

Both Shane and Ruffa reportedly suffered abuse while with the communist group. The latter got pregnant and gave birth to a baby girl, now two years old.

Due to poor nutrition and lack of proper medical care, Ruffa was said to have suffered postpartum depression syndrome but instead of being given appropriate medical care, she was tied to a corner like a dog.

The two sisters’ parents allegedly did nothing to help Ruffa. On the order of the CPP-NPA leadership, her baby was left to the care of a childless farmer couple, who were mass members of the rebel group in a town in the northwest part of Leyte island.

The 802nd Infantry Brigade under Brig. Gen. Zosimo A. Oliveros is reportedly finding ways to fulfill Ruffa’s wish to reunite with her child.

Meanwhile, Shane’s lawyer, Ryan Balais, is confident that the local prosecutor’s office will find probable cause on the rape complaint.

Oliveros, on the other hand, condemned the NPA for recruiting minors and abusing female warriors.

"I am condemning in strongest terms the blatant disrespect to human dignity committed by the NPA commander. I am saddened by the fate of these victims due to the terrible sufferings and injustices that they experienced while they were in the hands of the NPA. Likewise, I admire the courage of Ka Shane in confessing her horrible experience, though it may degrade her reputation and dignity as a woman,” he said. With her revelation, she exposes the evils of joining the NPA."

He added that this confirms the blatant and persistent recruitment of minors within the communist terrorist organization.

Oliveros appealed to parents, youth, and all organizations advocating for women’s and children’s rights to unite and stop the deceptive recruitment of the youth by the communist terrorist group.

The NPA, which has been waging a five-decade armed struggle against the government, is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)