Kids abandoned by NPA parents suffer malnutrition
July 06, 2020 - Monday 8:07 PM by PNAFEEDING THE CHILDREN. Lt. Col. Julius Cesar C. Paulo (standing) commander of the Army's 23rd Infantry Battalion, leads a feeding program on Sunday (July 5, 2020) at the 23IB headquarters in Barangay Alubihid, Buenavista, Agusan del Norte. The activity benefited 27 children of former communist rebels. (Photo courtesy of 23IB)
BUTUAN CITY – Instead of wasting their time on a "false ideology", communist New People’s Army (NPA) combatants who have families should instead surrender and attend to the needs of their children, an Army official said.
Lt. Col. Julius Cesar C. Paulo, commander of the Army's 23rd Infantry Battalion (23IB) said malnutrition is common among children in the countryside who are abandoned by parents who chose to fight for the NPA instead of raising their children.
“As the Communist NPA Terrorists (CNTs) take away parents in order to fight with their useless ideology, many children suffer hunger and malnutrition due to lack of food. The false revolution of the CNTs force thousands of Filipino children, especially in the countryside, to live through hunger and fall into the fangs of malnourishment and diseases because they no longer have parents to attend to their daily food needs,” Paulo said in a statement Monday.
Paulo issued the statement a day after the 23IB organized a feeding activity for children inside its headquarters in Barangay Alubihid, Buenavista, Agusan del Norte, in line with the observance of the 46th Nutrition Month Celebration.
1Lt. Roel T. Maglalang, 23IB civil-military operations head, on Monday said 27 children of former NPA rebels benefited from the feeding program, which was supported by Batang Masigasig POINTY and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
“Each of the 27 children of our FRs (former rebels) was served with a bowl of nutritious hot porridge with egg, bread, and a glass of juice,” Maglalang said.
The feeding activity was organized following DSWD's nutrition survey that found five of the 27 children "severely underweight, the Army official said.
He assured the Army unit will continue to ensure that children of former NPA rebels are protected from malnutrition and the threats of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
Among the former rebels whose child benefited from the feeding program was “Osang”, who expressed gratitude to the government for taking care of the children NPA surrenderers.
“When I was still in the NPA movement, I was not able to take care of my children and have not provided them with sufficient food because our commander failed to give us our honorarium,” Osang was quoted by 23IB as saying in the dialect.
Osang also expressed regret abandoning her children when she joined the communist rebel movement.
“We were not given time to visit our families and our children,” Osang said, recalling that she could not recall any instance the NPA showed concern for the children of their combatants.
She said the NPA did not care about the welfare of their members' families.
Paulo said the NPA's disregard of their members' families reflects the "continued injustice" the rebel movement has inflicted on hundreds of families in the countryside.
“Being vulnerable to sickness, including the risk from Covid-19, children and the youth must be prioritized, not only during the observance of Nutrition Month but must also be watched most of the time, as the CNTs constantly shadow them for indoctrination and recruitment,” Paulo said.
Parents, he said, must take care of their young and must be guided properly to become "peace-loving individuals and someday become leaders and contribute to nation-building."
Paulo also reiterated his call to the remaining NPA rebels and supporters in the area to surrender and go back to mainstream society and live in peace with their families.
“We are always sincere in giving favorable treatment for the well-being of the FRs who chose to leave the armed struggle and live peacefully with their families because we do not consider them as our enemies anymore. The Army specifically the troops of 23IB and the FRs are now united and working as a team with a heart and mind having the same goal of solving insurgency,” Paulo said.
The NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. Alexander Lopez
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