BACOLOD CITY – Some four Negrense minors, who were abandoned by their parents who are members of the Communist Party of the Philippines - New People’s Army (CPP-NPA), have been assisted by the municipal government of Calatrava in Negros Occidental.
The children’s plight was reported by the Philippine Army’s 79th Infantry Battalion (79IB) based in northern Negros to the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office (MSWDO) on January 20 after troops patrolling remote Barangay Hilub-ang learned about their situation.
Of the four, three are boys, aged 16, 10, and seven, while the girl is 13. Their family is from Guihulngan City in Negros Oriental.
1Lt. Dansan Camua, civil-military operations officer of the 79IB, told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Friday the children are now in the custody of a woman, who took them in after their parents left them in October last year.
The guardian, identified as a certain Dianita Batcheller, residing in the village’s Sitio Tagbak, is not related to them.
Camua said the children’s parents are part of the NPA front operating in central Negros, mainly in Guihulngan City.
“Since the youngest was only two years old, their family has been moving from one place to another. The parents would always leave them to their mass base supporters,” he added.
During a meeting, Lt. Col. J-Jay Javines, commanding officer of 79IB, discussed with MSWDO personnel and barangay officials led by village chief Gloria Catallupa ways to help the children, such as registering their birth with the Local Civil Registrar, allowing them to attend school, and providing them with a sustainable livelihood.
Camua said they provided the children with personal items, such as clothes and slippers, and the family where the children are staying also received relief goods from the local government.
“We don’t know yet until when they will stay there. The MSWDO assessment is ongoing to determine if there are relatives who can take them in,” he added.
On January 26, 79IB troops conducted a forum with about 90 residents of Barangay Hilub-ang as part of the information awareness campaign on the exploitation, recruitment, and extortion activities of the CPP-NPA, particularly in geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas.
The 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.
The Anti-Terrorism Council also formally designated the National Democratic Front as a terrorist organization on June 23, 2021, citing it as “an integral and separate part” of the CPP-NPA that was created in April 1973. (PNA)