WAR MATERIEL. Firearms and ammunition found after an encounter between government troops and the South West Front of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) at Sitio Tigmaya, Barangay Gatuslao in Candoni Negros Occidental on May 3, 2022. The encounter also resulted in the death of a minor serving as a medical officer for the rebels. (Photo courtesy of 3rd DPAO)

ILOILO CITY – The 16-year-old child warrior recruited by the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) would have been alive today if he was not recruited by the communist terrorist group (CTG).

This was the sentiment of the Western Visayas Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF6-ELCAC) on Thursday regarding the death of a young rebel fighter who also served as the medical officer of the CPP-NPA-NDF’s South West Front during an encounter with the 15th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army at Sitio Tigmaya, Barangay Gatuslao in Candoni Negros Occidental on May 3, 2022.

“We extend our prayers and sympathy to the family of the young man who was deprived of a bright and better future by the CPP-NPA-NDF, which deceived and recruited him to join the terrorist organization that has done nothing but ruin the lives of the children in Negros Island and in other parts of the country. Had the CPP-NPA-NDF kept their hands off, he would have been alive today,” said the task force through its spokesperson Prosecutor Flosemer Chris Gonzales in a statement furnished to the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

Gonzales said the boy should have been alive if the NPA rebels did not recruit and brought him to the mountains for “senseless armed struggles.”

“However, the CPP-NPA-NDF, being the terrorist organization that it is, can never take their filthy hands off our children. They take pride and a perverse sense of joy in deceiving and recruiting the youth. They target our children to be recruited to wage their war of terror against the government and the Filipino people,” Gonzales said.

He said those who “blindly support and enable” the NPA’s recruitment and series of attacks “are no better than these criminals and terrorists.”

“They deserve a 10th Circle of Hell for their crimes against the Filipino people, for their crimes against parents who lost a child to their perverted and evil cause,” he said.

“We cry out loud in anger at the CPP-NPA-NDF as we remember the horrors that they have committed against scores of Filipino youth that they have deceived and exploited, radicalized and weaponized,” he added.

Gonzales chided the rebel group “for robbing our youth of their innocence, and forcing them to live a life of hatred, of violence, of abuse, of fear, and of terror, for causing the pointless deaths of our children in furtherance of their godless and soulless ideology.”

He called on the people of Western Visayas and the entire nation to stand in solidarity against the CPP-NPA-NDF terrorist organization.

“Words cannot embrace the indignation that we feel against the CPP-NPA-NDF for their sins against our people. We call on the peace-loving people of Candoni, Sipalay, and the entire Negros Island to condemn the CPP-NPA-NDF and their allied front organizations,” Gonzales said. “Let us win the peace by ending the local communist armed conflict."

In a press statement released by the 3rd Division Public Affairs Office (DPAO) of the 3rd Infantry Division (3ID) of the Philippine Army on Wednesday, it said that the encounter was a result of the information relayed by people in the community regarding the presence of the CPP-NPA in the area.

After the encounter, the government troops recovered from the site one M16 rifle, one .45 caliber pistol, one anti-personnel mine, magazines, ammunition, radio, cellular phone, and personal belongings.

Maj. Gen. Benedict Arevalo, commander of the 3ID, called on the remaining NPA members to surrender and avail of the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) as he also condemned the recruitment of minors and turning them into combatants.

“We strongly condemn the continuous recruitment of innocent minors by the CPP-NPA terrorists. Using them in their senseless armed struggle is a clear violation of the International Humanitarian Law,” Arevalo said in a statement.

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 NDF has been formally designated as a terrorist organization by the Anti-Terrorism Council on June 23, 2021, citing it as “an integral and inseparable part” of the CPP-NPA created in April 1973. (PNA)