A former NPA commander, his wife, and three others surrendered to government forces in Barangay Poblacion, Loreto, Agusan del Sur on Friday, May 31.
Capt. Aldim Viernes, Civil Military Operation officer of the 26th Infantry Battalion, identified them as Javier and his wife Ann, a squad political officer, supply officers Ricky and Yaw, and team leader James (not their real names).
All five belonged to the Guerilla Front 34 of the CPP-NPA’s Southern Mindanao Regional Committee (SMRC), which operates in the boundaries of Caraga and Davao de Oro (Compostela Valley).
They brought along with them two caliber .30 Carbine rifles with three magazines; one caliber .30 sub-machine gun with two magazines; one KG9 sub-machine gun; two shotguns, one caliber .45 with one magazine, one fragmentation grenade, and one anti-personnel mine.
Ann said the NPA never fulfilled any of its promises when they were recruited years ago. Instead, they were separated from their five children who were left to fend for themselves.
“I wanted to visit my children but our leaders did not allow me, even though they knew I needed to attend to my sick son. Also, the support they promised to us for our children never came especially when my youngest son was hospitalized. They did not even bother to provide a single centavo. They don’t care about family,” she claimed.
The couple learned of the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (ECLIP), and decided to surrender.
Meanwhile, Ricky, who was only 17 when he was recruited last year, also lamented about the hardships he suffered as a member of the NPA.
“Sometimes we go two days without eating because the supplies were delayed,” he said. “We couldn’t take it anymore.”
Lt. Col. Romeo Jimenea, the 26th IB commander, said the five were all victims of the CPP-NDF-NPA’s lies and propaganda, especially Ricky who was a minor when he was recruited.
“The International Humanitarian Law prohibits the recruitment of persons under 18 years old to become combatants, even in a local armed conflict,” Jimenea said.
Jimenea attributed the influx of surrenders from Loreto to the recent resolution by the Municipal Peace and Order Council and the Manobo tribal leaders declaring the CPP-NDF-NPA as persona non grata.
Records show that from January to date, 151 NPAs from Agusan del Sur have already surrendered to the government. They also handed over 50 firearms of various calibers.
Col. Allan Hambala, 401st Brigade Commander lauded the troops for facilitating the peaceful surrender of the five former rebels. He vowed to help them live normal lives again through the government’s E-CLIP.