Ka Shin, self-confessed former New People’s Army (NPA) woman fighter and No. 14 on the government’s wanted list in Palawan, has presented herself to authorities to claim she is no longer active in the insurgency.
Identifying herself as “Ka Shin” she told Palawan News at the 3rd Marine Brigade (3MBDe) that she showed up to clear her name because she had already abandoned the leftist movement when she escaped in 2017 in Brooke’s Point.
She said it was her boyfriend (name withheld) who persuaded her to present herself after learning that her picture is on the list of 41 rebel members and leaders who are being sought by the Provincial Task Force-Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict (PTF-ELCAC).
“Natakot po ako noong ipinakita niya (boyfriend) ang picture ko. Baka kasi bigla na lang akong hulihin, kaya nagpakita ako para mapatunayan ko din na hindi na ako NPA,” Ka Shin said.
“Napagod na po ako. Syempre gutom, pagod… hirap. Ilang beses akong nagpaalam, hindi nila ako pinapayagan. May nayaya akong dalawang babae na tumakas pero naabutan din kami sa may kalsada sa Brooke’s Point. May tao na nagsumbong, ‘yong mga nadaanan namin na bahay. Pero napilitan din sila na pababain na ako, mag-isa lang akong bumaba,” she said on the reason why she left the rebel movement.
She said that while in the insurgent group when she was 14, she served as a personal aide or “buddy” to Domingo Ritas (Ka Tino), taking care of his medicines and other health needs.
She said she was on probation at that time, subjected by the NPA provincial command to a period of “good behavior” under supervision before becoming a full-fledged child soldier.
“Ka-buddy ko lang po ‘yong matanda, si [Ka] Tino. Parang alalay niya lang ako, katulong. Taga-paalala ng gamot niya kasi marami po ‘yong sakit,” she said.
“Kapag malayo po ang lalakaran, halimbawa ilang bayan ang tatawirin, hindi kami sumasama mismo sa lakaran sa kanya. Umiistambay lang kami sa isang lugar, tapos kapag doon na siya sa pupuntahan, bago kami susunduin ng sasakyan na motor para makasama siya,” Ka Shin added.
Ka Shin said she was 15 when she first held a short firearm as a “trainee” in a mountain area she could no longer remember where.
She said she would carry the gun with her during “missions” for protection against their enemies, but she has not used it because she was too afraid.
“Hindi po naiputok, hindi ko nagamit kasi takot po ako talaga,” she said.
Ka Shin, according to 3MBDe commander Brig. General Charlton Sean Gaerlan, is the second to yield after the PTF-ELCAC came out with the wanted list. The first was Rico Soñer, the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) chairman of Barangay Paly, Taytay, and said to be the leader of Anakbayan.
Soñer’s category in the wanted list is now being verified by the PTF-ELCAC.
“Tulad noong isang pumunta rin dito, i-va-validate namin ‘yong facts tungkol sa kanya. Aalamin ang category niya,” Gaerlan said.
Ka Shin, 19, alleged that she was only eight-years-old when she, her mother, and two older brothers, were taken away from the rest of their family by Glendhyl Malabanan (Ka Meldy) of the Karapatan-Southern Tagalog (Karapatan-ST) in 2008.
She claimed they were separated from her two sisters, a brother, and a stepbrother from the second marriage of her mother.
She said Malabanan brought them to Sinangharian in San Vicente town to live under new identities, assimilating with the community to fish and plant crops to earn income.
“Eight-years-old po [noong mapunta kami dito] kasama ng nanay ko at saka ‘yong mga kapatid ko. Tatlo kami sa una na dinala dito. Anim po kami, pero tatlo kaming dinala dito. At saka may kapatid kami sa stepfather namin na isa,” Ka Shin said.
Her sister Rachelle, who reunited with her on Monday after more than a decade, said while crying that they never stopped looking for Ka Shin and their mother since they were taken away.
Rachelle claimed it was Malabanan who took her to pressure them to return to the NPA in Luzon.
“Hinila nila sila nanay, sinakay sa van, ‘yon na po ang last na nagkita kami. Hindi na kami nakapag-usap, simula noon hindi na kami nagkita. Tapos po ilang beses kaming nagmakaawa, pumunta doon sa opisina nila (Karapatan) sa main office sa Quezon City, pero sabi ng mga tao doon nag-abroad na daw po siya (Glendhyl). Nagulat ako noong sa Facebook nakita ko siya, ang sabi ko akala ko ba nasa abroad bakit nasa Palawan man ito?” she said.
Rachelle added that when she saw the video of Malabanan’s arrest, she communicated with the 3MBDe to help them find Ka Shin to reunite with her, their two brothers, and mother.
Rosel, another sister, said Karapatan was a part of their daily life because of their father who was among the leaders of the peasant organization Katipunan ng Samahang Magbubukid-Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK).
She said their father was abducted and killed in 2003 with a Karapatan-ST leader while conducting a fact-finding mission on the murders of peasant farmers and community workers in Mindoro.
“Sila (Karapatan) ‘yong huling kasama ng nanay namin. Simula kasi [noong mamatay ‘yong tatay namin], sila na ‘yong humahawak sa amin kasama ng organization ng tatay namin. Kasama-TK kasi ‘yong tatay namin,” Rosel said.
“Sinasama-sama po ako dati ni ate Glen, para akong naging kanang kamay niya kaya hindi niya rin ako binibitawan,” she added.
Rosel said they are overwhelmed by the fact that Ka Shin and their two brothers are still alive, but saddened by the reality that they failed to see their mother again who died of cancer in 2012.
Of all things, Rosel said that was what hurts them the most.
“‘Yon ang pinaka masakit sa aming magkakapatid, ang hindi makita ang nanay namin. Namatay siya na hindi namin nalaman na magkakapatid,” Rosel said.
Rachelle alleged that Karapatan-ST abducted their mother and siblings to make her and Rosel return to the NPA after leaving it in place of a new life.
She said that based on her experience as a former rebel, Karapatan “is really NPA”.
“‘Yang mga pinagsasabi nila puro mga front na lang naman po ‘yan. Kasi kulang na lang magsabit sila ng baril dahil talaga namang silang lahat ay mga NPA,” Rachelle said.
“Ang purpose lang naman kung bakit tinago nila ang mga ito (Ka Shin) kasi gusto nila kaming pabalikin. Gusto nila kaming pabalikin kaso ako ay nanindigan na gusto na namin ng bagong buhay. Wala naman po silang magandang kinabukasan para sa amin. Sa bundok nga lang magugutom ka, mapalaban ka, tiisin mo lang. Ang sabi ko, ‘anong future ang naghihintay sa amin dito?’ Kaya hindi rin naman ako talaga nangarap na habang buhay doon,” she said.
In reaction, Karapatan lawyer Maria Sol Taule said on Thursday it is no longer new for their organization to be accused of being a legal front of the NPA.
She also said she is not aware of the “particular” case of Ka Shin, but she admitted knowing the story about her father.
“‘Yong part na sinasabing front ‘yong Karapatan ng NPA, well, lagi naman naming naririnig ‘yan. Of course, vehemently dini-deny namin ‘yan dahil hindi naman ‘yan totoo. Pangalawa, ‘yong fact na ‘yan tungkol sa anak, siguro kailangan ko munang i-verify doon sa Karapatan sa region kasi ngayon ko lang narinig,” she said.
Taule said she will have to verify her case with the Karapatan-ST.
As for Malabanan, she said she will have to also verify the veracity of the claims.
“Titingnan ko kung anong nangyari para makapag-issue kami ng statement kung kailangan, kasi ngayon medyo complicated ‘yong facts. Hindi ako makapagsalita doon sa facts kasi kailangan ko ngang i-verify pero ‘yong accusation na front ‘yong Karapatan ay hindi naman sa amin bago ‘yon. Kung baga lagi namang narrative na naririnig namin, pero hindi totoo ‘yon, of course,” Taule said.
She claimed Karapatan has papers to prove that they are registered to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and has other documents to prove that they are cooperating with the government legally.
“‘Yong tungkol sa client ko, kay Glendhyl Malabanan, we will have to talk to her first kung kilala niya itong taong ito. Sa ngayon, ‘yon muna ang kaya kong ipahayag,” she said.