MANILA - The military claimed on Sunday that it rescued a Lumad girl during a military operation last week against communist rebels in the Caraga region.
This was after a non-governmental organization said that the soldiers had taken the minor and then branded her as ‘child warrior.’
The 3rd Special Forces Battalion said it "rescued" a minor during an operation against New Peoples Army guerillas at the boundary of Barangay Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur and Barangay Mabuhay, Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur on June 14.
This was a day before another encounter in Surigao del Sur where the military said 3 suspected rebels were killed.
Lt. Col. Benedict Harvey Gernale, Commanding Officer ng 3rd Special Forces Battalion, said they responded to reports about the presence of armed men in Sitio Tibog, Mabuhay, Prosperidad, Agusan
The encounter lasted 5 minutes, the military said.
Following the encounter, they "rescued" the girl who they brought to the police and then turned over to the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office.
The military said it was able to retrieve black powder, blasting caps, and other materials used to make anti-personnel mines.
Meanwhile, the Save Our Schools network, which helps Lumad children, said the minor allegedly rescued by the military was "taken" after soldiers fired at farmers at a corn farm in Sitio Marang, Brgy. Mabuhay, Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur.
The group said 3 families were tending their farms in the area when soldiers fired at them, wounding two individuals.
Of the 18 individuals who were fired upon, 12 were children, and 3 were toddlers, the group said.
The families are members of MAPASU, a Lumad organization in the Caraga Region, it added.
- With a report from Lorilly Charmane D. Awitan, ABS-CBN News