By ayan c. mellejor
The mother of a 14-year old recruit of the New People’s Army (NPA) has pleaded for the return of her young daughter to the family.
Leonida Davis, a 57-year-old farmer from Sitio Kasunugan, Barangay Buso in Mati, Davao Oriental, said her daughter, Liza, did not return home after she was brought to Davao City for a protest rally last February 23. Liza was expected to return home last February 27, the last day of the supposed rally.
Leonida said she was not even aware of her daughter’s travel to Davao City because she was in Banaybanay, Davao Oriental for her sick child.
It was only lately when a friend Jenny, who was also recruited by the NPA but successfully escaped from the NPA hold, told her that they were both recruited by the rebel group on January 30.
Jenny, 17 years old, surrendered to the Philippine Army last month following the armed encounter between the government troops and the rebels in Calapagan, Mati, Davao Oriental. She was able to escape from the rebel movement.
Leonida said Liza was with jenny in that attempted escape but the rebels took hold of her daughter. Leonida was worried what would happen to Liza as she was wounded in the legs when she was last seen by Jenny.
“Gusto na daw niya mouli. Nagbasol siya ana. Sige na lang ug hilak (She reportedly wanted to go home. She regretted it. She was always crying),” said Leonida, who sought the help of the 10th Infantry Division for the return of her daughter.
Leonida said that words from the NPA reached her that Liza does not want to go home and will commit suicide if she will be forced go home.
“Walay rason nga maghikog akong anak. Underage pa akong anak. Dili pa ensakto sae dad. Supak sa akong kabubut-on nga nag apil sya ana (There’s no reason for her daughter to commit suicide. She’s still underage. She is still not in the right age. It is against my will that she joined them (NPA),” Leonida told reporters during the AFP-PNP press forum on Wednesday.
Liza is youngest in a brood of nine and still in Grade six.
“Pait sa usa ka ginikanan nga mawala ang anak (It is very difficult for a parent to lose a child),” Leonida said.
Leonida admitted that NPA rebels would sometime pass by or hang around their community. Kasunugan is a remote area which is about more than two kilometers from the barangay center.
“Palihug ko ug uli sa akong anak. Mao lang akong hangyo sa inyuha (Please return my daughter. That is my only appeal to you),” Leonida said in tears.
She also aired the same appeal to groups supporting the communist movement.
Capt. Rhyan Batchar, spokesperson of the 10th ID, confirmed Jenny is now in their custody. When they were told about Liza, Batchar said they immediately looked for her parents.
Batchar said Jenny and Liza were reportedly recruited by a certain Clara of Almasid, which is part of the NPA recruitment.
According to the military, the NPA took the opportunity to recruit members during the ceasefire period. Some of them were minors.
Batchar said they are also trying to assist to get Liza back.
Earlier, the 10th ID commander Major General Rafael Valencia the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the NPA, for recruiting minors for their armed struggle.
“The communists must spare the children from directly participating in the armed conflict,” Valencia pointed out.
He added that such irresponsible act of the CPP-NPA should be strongly condemned by the Filipino people.
Since February 1 this year, a total of 39 NPA regulars have already returned to the folds of the law while 19 high powered firearms were recovered from the NPAs, Batchar said.
Five of the recovered firearms were brought along by NPA regulars who voluntarily surrendered to the army.