A NEW People’s Army rebel killed in a firefight with government troops in Butuan City last week has been identified as a 16-year-old boy recruited by communist leaders early this year.
Maj. Regie Go, spokesman of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division based in Cagayan de Oro City, identified the minor as as Litboy Talja Binongcasan, a resident of Sitio Shiohan, Baranga Malinao, Gingoog City.
Go said Binongcasan was initially identified on Monday by a distant relative who is serving as a government militiaman. Go said Binongcasan’s identity was later confirmed by his brother.
Go said Binongcasan, a Grade VI pupil, was reportedly recruited by communist leaders sometime last February this year. “They believe he was recruited, went with the rebels February this year when he went missing,” Go said.
Binongcasan was slain during a combat operation conducted by troops from the Army’s 23rd Infantry Battalion in Sitio Salvacion in Barangay Manila de Bugabos last Saturday.
After the 15-minute firefight, troops also recovered at the scene four rifles, five backpacks, two bandoleers, 11 magazines, rebel documents, and personal belongings.
Lt. Gen. Felimon Santos Jr., commander of the Davao City-based AFP Eastern Mindanao Command, said he is saddened by the fate of the boy, saying the NPA’s recruitment of the minor “is a clear violation of children’s rights.”
“This act is being condemned in the highest form. It paints the true color of the CTGs (communist terrorist group) who disregard the concern and human rights of the people, particularly the children,” said Santos.
“We vehemently condemn the continued CNT (CPP-NPA Terrorist) recruitment of minors as combatants, for this is a clear violation of the International Humanitarian Law,” said 4th ID commander Maj. Gen. Nemesio Gacal.
Gacal appealed to parents “to take care of their children and don’t allow the CNTs to destroy their future.”
“The CNTs have been bringing our minors to their deaths for five decades now,” said Gacal, adding the military wants nothing but families to be together, especially during the coming Christmas season.
Last August, rookie Sen. Ronald Dela Rosa said 513 minors had been recruited by the NPA from 1999 to 2019. Of the number, 362 have surrendered, 134 were apprehended and 17 were killed in skirmishes with government forces.