Relentless combat operations in Surigao del Sur supposedly resulted in the surrender of two New People’s Army rebels and 18 of their supporters.
The former rebels surrendered over the weekend to the Army’s 75th Infantry Battalion (IB), 401st Brigade in Bislig City.
According to the 75th Battalion commander, Lt. Col. Jaime Datuin, the latest batch of surrenderers– two NPA rebels, two members of the Sangay ng Partido sa Localidad, five mass base supporters and 11 members of the Militia ng Bayan (People’s Militia) belonged to NPA Guerrilla Front 71, North Eastern Mindanao Regional Committee (NEMRC).
Datuin identified the rebel returnees by their aliases: “Tapul”, “James”, “RR”, “Bata”, “Mer”, “Maegan”, “Roy”, “Dodong”, “Ba-ang”, “Kaba-kaba”, “Botyok”, “Palakata”, “Pino”, “Jerry”, “Esidro”, “Estong”, “Rachel”, “Jun”, “Joebert” and alias “George”.
They brought with them four CZ-858 semi-automatic assault rifles, 11 improvised shotguns, one M16 rifle, one M14 rifle, two AK47 rifles, one caliber .30 Carbine rifle, four caliber .45 pistols, three .22 caliber revolvers, two .38 revolvers, blasting caps and electric wires.
The rebels formalized their return to the fold of law when they took their “oath of allegiance” to the government during a ceremony in Bislig City on Sunday (June 16).
The 75th battalion commander said the surrenderers claimed they realized they were being deceived and exploited by the CPP-NPA and they decided to give up because of the difficulty and danger of the situation.
“According to our agents, their members are feeling the intensity of military and police operations, forcing them to go into hiding for days with little or no food at all. Many of them are sick and need immediate medical attention,” Datuin said.
“Mabuti na lang sumuko sila nang maayos sapagkat naiwasan natin ang pagdanak ng dugo. Ngayon, pwede na ulit silang magsimula ng panibagong buhay kapiling ang kanilang mga pamilya,” he said.
The 20 NPA surrenderers are undergoing debriefing, documentation and psychosocial intervention before their enrollment in the Enhanced-Comprehensive Local Integration Program or E-CLIP.
Under the E-CLIP, a former rebel can receive P15,000 immediate cash assistance, P50,000 livelihood assistance, firearms remuneration, get access to housing, as well as medical and legal aid.
Col. Allan Hambala, commander of the 401st IB, lauded the operating troops and the decision of communist rebels to take the peaceful path of returning to the folds of the law.
He reiterated his appeal to the remaining communist guerrillas to surrender and return to their respective families.
“They are on the brink of defeat that is why I am encouraging the remaining armed members of the CPP-NPA to heed the national government’s call for peace. Do not wait until our forces catch up with you on the jungles because we will be relentless in our campaign. My advice is to lay down your arms and surrender peacefully- that is your only choice,” Hambala said.
Since the start of this year, some 395 alleged NPA members operating in Surigao del Sur province have already surrendered to the Army’s 401st IB, according to Hambala. By CLC