“Its becoming clearer and clearer that the NPAs here in Mindanao are becoming desperate by the minute”.

This is the reaction of LTGEN JOSE C FAUSTINO JR as he was informed by JTF AGILA Commander that another minor NPA was rescued by the elements of 3rd Infantry Bn troops after a brief 30minute firefight against a group of New Peoples Army at Sitio Pinanubuan, Barangay Sinuda, Kitaotao Bukidnon in late afternoon of June 5, 2020.

The 17- year old identified as, alias, “Nina”, was wounded in the left thigh and lower right leg. She gave up to the pursuing troops after she was abandoned by her group who scampered to different directions. Recovered from her possession were an International Humanitarian Law banned improvised landmine and a hand grenade.

“Its a miracle that she was found by our forces. An hour late could have been fatal as she could have died due to loss of blood”. Lt. Gen. Faustino further added.

She was recruited when she was still 15 years old by an NPA uncle and trained as a combatant at “Salugpungan School” in Sitio Nasilaban, Brgy Palma Gil, Talaingod sometime in 2018.

Salugpungan schools had proliferated in the hinterlands of Talaingod from mid 90s to 2019 but these have now been banned by local authorities after series of complaints from Indigenous Communities & parents saying that these schools have become a laboratory for future NPA cadres & militants. With dwindling mass bases and relevancy, the NPAs in Mindanao are recruiting minors & students to beef up their ranks sometimes using these type of schools as covers.

As a matter of protocol dictated by the International Humanitarian Law and Republic Act 11188 or the Special Protection of Children in Situations of Armed Conflict Act, said NPA was immediately given medical first aid by troops before bringing her to a German Hospital in Buda, Marilog and was later transferred to the Southern Philippines Medical Center for surgery. While on evacuation, coordinations were undertaken to the local Social Welfare Office of Kitaotao, Bukidnon and the Philippine National Police for proper intervention and custody.

Meanwhile, no one was hurt in the government side during the clash and there were no reported civilians displaced as a consequence of this incident.

“It will take a while for Nina to adjust to a normal life as she has just undergone surgery. Wounds heal but the trauma still exists, but just like hundreds of NPA minors who have been rescued & who surrendered to the government, Nina will surely live her dreams and explore her talents and potentials away from the clutches of her former comrades.” Lt. Gen. Faustino said

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