BACOLOD CITY – A former New People’s Army (NPA) rebel and his son, who was once a child combatant, are rebuilding their lives with their family with assistance from the government, especially from troops of the Philippine Army’s 94th Infantry Battalion (94IB), who facilitated their surrender a year ago.
The father, known as “Joker”, and his son, alias “Jacking”, yielded during the immersion of the unit’s Community Support Program teams in the village of Buenavista in Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental on Oct. 9, 2020.
On Friday, Capt. Eduardo Rarugal Jr., civil-military operations officer of the 94IB, told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) that “Jacking”, now 16, has resumed his studies through the Department of Education’s Alternative Learning System (ALS) to be able to finish junior high school.
The minor is studying together with his siblings and other former rebels under the supervision of the troops.
He added that “Jacking” now gets to enjoy the company of his friends while playing sports, such as basketball, during their free time.
“He’s already living his life just like a normal kid unlike before when he was still with the NPA. They were always hiding and keeping watch for the presence of soldiers,” Rarugal said.
After the surrender, the family moved to neighboring Ayungon town in Negros Oriental, where they were able to purchase land near the battalion headquarters, where they now live and earn a livelihood by raising animals and planting vegetables.
They were able to receive financial and other assistance from the government’s Enhanced-Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP).
Rarugal said the family of “Joker” cannot be totally free from security threats, considering the continued presence of the NPA in the area.
“Maybe the threat is still there, but they are assured of protection when they are with the 94IB,” he added.
“Jacking” was only 11 when he was recruited by the NPA, where his father was already a combatant. His two siblings also became part of the armed struggle, but they left after a few months.
Only “Jacking” stayed for about four years and while with the NPA, he was assigned as a medical officer of Sentro De Gravidad Platoon of Central Negros Front 2.
During their surrender, he and his father, then 40, turned over a .38-caliber pistol and .30-caliber Springfield sniper rifle to Lt. Col. Angelo Guzman, commander of 94IB.
Before that, they were involved in a series of encounters with government troops in the hinterlands of Himamaylan and neighboring Binalbagan town and Kabankalan City.
“Joker” had said he does not want to see his young son die as he wants him to fulfill his dreams. “Jacking” is the third among six children.
The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) - NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)