By Ali G. Macabalang
COTABATO CITY — Eight (8) young Tedurays victimized in illegal military recruitment have finally returned home in Maguindanao with the intercession of the Bangsamoro Government’s Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs (MIPA).
Upon arrival on July 31, the victims were shown in brief presentation at the MIPA office in this city were they narrated how they were duped to chip out cash recruitment fees and stayed miserably in Bulacan province, the supposed area of their training and enlistment to the Army service.
The victims, accompanied by their parents at the presentation, said each of them paid 35 thousand pesos to a certain former Master Sgt. Diwat, who allegedly promised them an immediate training for enlistment in the military service.
They said they stayed for five months in Bulacan waiting for the training that never happened. Their anxious parents asked for help from the MIPA, one of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) ministries.
“We were promised after paying cash for prompt training. But in five months of waiting, we sensed that we were being fooled,” victim Benzar Cornelio, a Tedurary from Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao, told MIPA officials in Pilipino.
He said they worked as construction laborers in Bulacan to earn for their daily needs while waiting for the training.
Cornelio and his fellow victims named their recruiter as a certain retired Army Master Sgt. Diwat, also a Teduray.
With assistance of the San Jose City police in Bulacan, MIPA officials helped file a complaint at the Barangay Hall of Gayagaya where Diwat reportedly promised to pay back what he had collected from the victims.
In a report from the BARMM’s Bangsamoro Information Office, Michael Garrigues, head of MIPA’s Ancestral Domain Section, said their legal officer would assist the victims in case they want to pursue a criminal case in court.
The report said MIPA officials facilitated the victims’ transport from Bulacan to Maguindanao, and provided them with food and financial assistance.
“We are very grateful to the MIPA and the BARMM government for securing our children,” Jose Timpadan, a father of another victim, was quoted as saying in Pilipino.
Timpadan recalled in grief how he mortgaged his landholding for his son to pay the 35 thousand-peso fee.
The victims appealed to the Armed Forces of the Philippines to help them pursue their failed desire for enlistment in the Army service. (AGM)