Mom says arrest of rebel son in Samar a blessing

TACLOBAN CITY – For Anabelle Sabado, the capture of her son, who was recruited by the New People’s Army (NPA) as a finance officer in Northern Samar, is an answered prayer.

Anabelle said his son, Rey Christian, 22, made up his mind to abandon the communist terrorist group in March this year after two years, but rebel leaders allegedly threatened to harm him.

“He stayed in our house from March to June this year and find part-time jobs, but someone called him up almost every day and pressured him to join the State of the Nation Address (SONA) rally and be an active NPA member again,” Anabelle said in a phone interview.

On Sunday, Anabelle and some members of the Hands Off Our Children group visited Christian who is now under the custody of the Northern Samar police provincial office. This was her first time to see her son after four months.

On Oct. 3, soldiers of the 20th Infantry Battalion arrested Sabado, Anton Mañoso, and Edwin Picson while conducting extortion activities in Las Navas, Northern Samar. They were turned over to the police custodial facility.

Government troops seized from their possession firearms, explosives, and documents that contain information linking NPA with front organizations and the list of business establishments targeted for their extortion activities.

Anabelle told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) that contrary to the claim of a left-leaning group, his son is in good physical condition and happy that he is still alive despite joining encounters with government troops in Northern Samar.

“He’s been longing to come home, continue his studies, and find a job. It has been his desire to surrender to the government,” the mother said, after hours of private talk with his son.

Gemma Labsan, a founding member of Hands Off our Children, said Christian’s capture is God’s will to save him from his horrible experiences in the hands of the NPA.
“His expression of regret in joining rebellion will help our children make the right choice. We are very happy to see and talk to him as part of our campaign to discourage teens from embracing the ideology of communist NPA,” said Labsan, whose daughter is active in anti-government protests.

Labsan, a public school teacher said she is still lucky that her daughter remains with them, but her attitude is greatly influenced by the NPA.

Another Hands Off Our Children founding member, Luisa Espina, said she is happy to hear from Christian that her daughter, Louvaine Erika is still alive and has been assigned in Mindanao.

“Christian made a personal appeal to my daughter to surrender and return home,” Espina told PNA.

Anabelle cautioned students against listening to the persuasions of left-leaning groups, whose intention, she said is to recruit teens to join the NPA through youth activism.

“My son has started as a student leader and meet people from Anakbayan, who convinced him to abandon us, his career, and go to mountains to fight the government,” she added.

Christian was a 20-year-old sophomore accounting student at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines in Manila when he joined the communist terrorist group.

In a video released Sunday by Hands Off Our Children, he asked students to focus on their studies, be with their family, and not join anti-government demonstrations.