A son who was kidnapped seven years ago is suspected to be one of the child warriors fighting with Islamic State-inspired terrorists in Marawi City, according to the mother.
Rowhanisa Abdul Jabar said her son resembles someone among the several photos circulating on social media of children bringing high powered firearms which are believed to have been taken to the Marawi City main battle area.
Jabar said a friend sent her the photo after noticing some similarities in her son’s physical features with the child warrior.
Azramie Magondacan, also known as Ram-Ram, was three years old when he was kidnapped on July 4, 2010 from their rented apartment in Tondo, Manila while his mother was in her store in Tutuban Mall, Divisoria.
Her helper Ula Arada, who was the main suspect has already been arrested, but her alleged accomplices are still at large, a SunStar Cagayan de Oro story disclosed.
“Please help. Is the boy in the picture holding a gun same face with my son? If it’s him, I hope he survives,” Jabar took to Facebook her plea of getting help in identifying or confirming if it’s her son in the photo.
After losing her son seven years ago, 35-year-old Rowhanisa Abdul Jabar made a Facebook page, This Kid is Missing showing the photos of her 3-year-old son, Azramie Magondacan, nicknamed Ramram, on the cover, hoping she could get help from netizens to get him back.
She now shared on the same page photos sent to her of an alleged child combatant of the Maute-ISIS in Marawi City because of some resemblance to her missing son.
The child warrior could be RamRam, hence she appealed to the military to get him alive, if he is still alive, so she can be certain through DNA if he is indeed her son.
Capt. Jo-ann Petinglay, spokesperson of Joint Task Force Marawi and Western Mindanao Command told the Inquirer that the intelligence community is already in the process of identifying the picture’s authenticity.
Petinglay said: “There is no word yet from our intelligence operatives. But if we look back to previous hostages that were able to come out alive, they were all saying a lot of minor fighters were inside.”
Terrorists were using young fighters as they could easily be manipulated, Petinglay added. “They can easily shape the minds of these young people. Besides, with money, minors are not difficult to encourage to join them.”
It was then confirmed by Deputy Commander of Task Group Ranao, Col. Romeo Brawner, that the terrorists were really using children to fight with them in the ongoing war in Marawi City.
“Our soldiers have a soft spot for young fighters, but they are forced to shoot them when they get violent with their arms,” he said during a press briefing Saturday, August 25.
Many have denounced the use of children in the war, particularly Zia Alonto Adiong, spokesperson of the Provincial Crisis Management Committee, calling it “illegal, immoral and un-Islamic”.
He said it was against the Protocols to the 1949 Geneva Conventions that prohibits the use of children in war.