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Happy end for mom who feared missing son had turned child warrior

Mom used social media to help find her son who was abducted seven years ago

Happy end for mom who feared missing son had turned child warrior

Many Marawi evacuees also have to deal with fears over missing relatives, estimated from between 200 to more than 500. (Photo by Divina Suson)

Divina M. Suson, Manila
Philippines

September 6, 2017

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A mother who took to social media in a desperate bid to spare the life of a child soldier has been reunited with her son 10-year-old son after a seven-year search.

However, Rowhanisa Abdul Jabar did not find her son Azramie "Ram-ram" Magondacan in Marawi, the war-torn city in the southern Philippines, but within a few hundred meters of her home in the Philippine capital Manila.

She had flown to Marawi to show military officials a photo of an armed boy she thought might be her son.

Jabar begged officers to spare child soldiers fighting in Marawi, to allow her the chance to find the boy for a DNA test.

A family helper abducted the then three-year-old Azaramie while his parents were at work in their shop.

Jabar's appeal went viral on Facebook as millions of Filipinos followed her quest.

After her story was featured in a ucanews.com article last week and eventually on a television show on Sept. 3, Jabar said someone sent her a text message.

The unidentified person said a neighbor had a boy who looked like her missing son.

Jabar asked the caller to check if the boy sported a facial mole. After a positive reply, she contacted the National Bureau of Investigation for help.

But before the bureau could launch an investigation, word came that a woman, known locally as the boy's "adoptive mother," had surrendered to police.

At a residence just a few blocks from Jabar's home and even closer to her shop, social workers found a smiling, clean, happy boy.

Jabar told ucanews.com he was "adopted" by the still unnamed woman.

She did not give details about the circumstances of the adoption.

"I asked him if he was familiar with the area around my store and he said he often played in that area," Jabar told ucanews.com. "But during all these years, we never ran into each other,"

Social welfare officials reunited Jabar with her son under their supervision but the mum must go through the legal process of getting him back.

Jabar said a DNA test is the first step to determining the boy's parentage.

"We will comply with that. We sleep at the social welfare shelter, which is hard, because sleeping on a cement floor is not comfortable, but I am willing to do all this just to have my son back," Jabar said.

The boy in Manila is a few years younger than the child soldier in the photo that sparked Jabar's search.

Meanwhile, more than 200 Marawi residents remain missing, according to the Philippine Red Cross. Another group, the Suara Bangsamoro, believes the Red Cross figure is conservative and places its estimate are more than 500.

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