Concerns raised over NPA recruitment of youth in Tacloban

The arrest of five young activists in this city over possession of firearms and explosives is not a triumph on the part of the government but a reminder to do more to protect youthfrom the influence of the communist terrorist group.

Lawyer Marlon Bosantog of the national task force to end the local communist armed conflict (ELCAC) said the arrest of the five suspected rebels is proof that they are being used by the New People's Army (NPA) in their armed struggle.

It is heartbreaking that we have young people being charged for illegal possession of firearms and explosives. These are very serious charges, Bosantog told reporters on Monday.

The legal head of the national task force ELCAC was in the city to make sure that due process is followed and there is no human rights violation in handling the case.

Maj. Gen. Pio DiAoso III, commander of the Philippine Army's 8th Infantry Battalion, said the military is saddened to see these young people being manipulated by rebels.

Their parents are sad that their children were arrested. They are not aware of the extent of participation of their children in NPA. The NPA ruined their future since they're the ones who recruited them and give them firearms and explosives. This is the fault of the NPA, DiAoso said.

Their arrest, the military official said is an eye opener to those who are inclined to embrace the NPA's ideology.

Prior to their arrest for the illegal possession of firearms and explosives, we have found that these young activists go around schools to teach students about radicalization. Their activities would continue if no one informed us, DiAoso added.

Government forces arrested Frenchie Mae Cumpio, Marielle Domequil, Alexander Philip Abinguna, Marissa Cabaljao, and Mira Legion in a pre dawn raid on Feb. 7 at the alleged communist terrorist group's safe houses here.

The suspects yielded two .45 caliber pistols, two magazine assemblies and 14 rounds of live ammunition for .45 caliber, two fragmentation grenades, a red flag with Communist Party of the Philippines NPA symbol, and PHP557,360 in cash.

Those arrested are active members of militant groups linked to the NPA.

Cumpio is the secretary of Eastern Visayas regional white area committee (RWAC) and anchor of the left leaning funded radio program Lingganay han Kamatuuran".

Domequil, a RWAC member, is the finance officer of Rural Missionaries of the Philippines Eastern Visayas. Legion is a member of Bayan Eastern Visayas, Cabaljao is the spokesperson of People Surge Network, while Abinguna is affiliated with Katungod Sinirangan Bisayas.

On Tuesday, the Tacloban City Prosecutor's Office found probable cause in filing charges against those arrested.

Two of those arrested were charged for violation of the Republic Act 10591 or An Act Providing for a Comprehensive Law on Firearms and Ammunition.

The three other activists are now facing raps for violating Republic Act 9516, the Unlawful Manufacture, Sales, Acquisition, Disposition, Importation or Possession of an Explosive or Incendiary Device.

The two respondents for the illegal possession of firearms are Legion and Cabaljao. The local court allowed each of them to pay a PHP120,000 bail.

No bail was recommended for three other respondents Cumpio, Domiquel, and Abinguna who are facing charges for possession of explosives.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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