A 17-year-old alleged member of the New People's Army (NPA) rebel group was rescued in a military operation in Hinabangan town, Samar on Sunday.
Authorities said Philippine Army personnel from the 801st Infantry Brigade exchanged gunfire with NPA rebels in Barangay Lim-ao for 10 minutes. After the gunbattle, they saw the minor surrendering with a gun in his hand, allegedly abandoned by his fellow rebels.
"May hawak siya na baril. Iniwan siya ng mga kasamahan niya," said Col. Camilo Ligayo, commander of 801st Infantry Brigade, during a press conference.
He said it was fortunate that soldiers immediately saw the minor raising the white flag, as it might have gone the other way.
"'Yun 'di na niya alam ang gagawin. Lumapit na siya maski madilim. Alam niyang delikado ang buhay niya, lumapit na siya," said Ligayo.
The former rebel's mother hugged him while crying at the press briefing. According to her, the minor had bid farewell, saying he was going to Manila for work.
She said their family was surprised when the military told them of the minor's situation.
The Philippine Army said they will turn over the teen to the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
- Report from Geron Ponferrada, ABS-CBN News