'Is he my son?' Maute child soldier resembles missing boy
MANILA, Philippines – A mother who lost her 3-year-old boy in Tondo, Manila 7 years ago fears Maute Group terrorists have turned her son into a child warrior, and he could now be among those fighting soldiers in Marawi City.
Rowhanisa Abdul Jabar flooded Facebook with her desperate calls for information about a Maute child warrior who she said resembles the son she lost in July 2010.
"Siya na nga ba 'yan... kasi ako bilang isang ina, na nalayo nang almost 8 years ang anak, hindi ko na po makilala, except sa sinasabi nila na lukso ng dugo," Jabar said in a Facebook post that circulated among Marawi residents.
(Is that him? I'm a mother who has been separated from her child for almost 8 years. I can no longer recognize him, but I strongly feel he could be my son.)
Jabar's son, Ram-ram Abdul Jabbar Cabugatan, was kidnapped from their home in Tondo, Manila on July 4, 2010. The boy is also referred to as "Azramie Mangondacan" in affidavits submitted to authorities.
Ram-ram would be 10 years old today.
The mother shudders to think that her son is now part of the terrorist group that is responsible for the raging war that destroyed Marawi City and displaced about 600,000 residents of Lanao del Sur.
"Sa murang edad niya, hindi dapat siya nagkakaganyan. Sana may magandang buhay siyang kinakaharap sa ngayon, kung hindi siya nahiwalay sa akin," Jabar said.
(At his young age, he shouldn't be like that. He would have had a good future ahead of him if he weren't separated from me.)
Children were found to be among those fighting with the local terror group in Marawi City. They were trained in Butig, the hometown of Maute matriarch Farhana, according to a former child soldier interviewed by Rappler. (READ: I met a Maute soldier. He's a child.)
The Maute Group is one of the local terror groups that pledged allegiance to the international terror group Islamic State (ISIS). They seek to carve an Islamic caliphate in the Philippines. (READ: Terror in Mindanao: The Mautes of Marawi)
Not losing hope
In her affidavit, Jabar accused their househelp of colluding with a former neighbor she named as Sittie Melva, who she said masterminded the kidnapping.
In July 2010, Jabar created a Facebook page dedicated to spreading and soliciting information about Ram-ram. She also offered a P100,000 reward for information that would lead her back to her son.
Through the years, she kept posting photos of her son on the Facebook page even if they didn't get a lot of attention. The page drew more views after she posted a photo of her son and the Maute child soldier who resembles him.
On Monday, August 28, her search for Ram-ram made it to the headline of the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
"Ang hirap hirap po talaga, ang ganitong sitwasyon na mawalan ka ng anak sa hindi maipaliwanag na dahilan. Muli po ako aasa na makita ko pa siya at makasama ko hanggang sa muli, Ramkoy!" said Jabar.
(It's very difficult to be in a situation where you lose your son for no reason. I am still hoping that I will see him again and spend time with him.) – Rappler.com