A ranking political officer of the New People’s Army (NPA) surrendered and turned over several explosives to members of the 16th Infantry Battalion based in Barangay Malabog, Paquibato District on Tuesday.
Epifanio Blas, also known as Ka Blas, yielded nine Improvised Explosive Devices (IED), designed as anti-personnel mines, to the battalion under the 1003rd Infantry Brigade.
Capt. Erick Wynmer Calulot, the Civil-Military Operations Officer of 1003rd IB, said Blas, 49, married, of Barangay Malabog, is the assistant secretary of the NPA’s underground mass organization, Hingpit Organisadong Masa, a local party branch in Malabog.
Blas, Calulot said, surrendered after “realizing the sincerity of the peace-building efforts of 16th Infantry Battalion troop in the area.”
Blas is now undergoing process to avail of the Enhanced-Comprehensive Local Integrated Program (E-CLIP) in which NPA surrenderer gets livelihood and other assistances from the government.
Col. Nolasco Mempin, 1003rd IB commander, said “such welcome development in Paquibato is a result of our continuing effort to completely clear the barangays from NPA influence.”
“Paquibato is transforming into a more peaceful state largely due to the combined peace and development efforts of the unit with Davao City Peace 911,” Mempin said.
Paquibato, composed of 13 barangays in the second congressional district, is once a stronghold of the communist movement.
In Bukidnon, three regular NPA members surrendered to the Community Support Program team of the 8th Infantry Battalion.
Lt. Col. Ronald Illana, the 8th IB commander, said the three also surrendered five anti-personnel mines and a garand rifle in Barangay Kalabugao, Impasugong on Tuesday.
Illana identified the returnees as Ka Lakap, 45, a Militiang Bayan courier; Ka Alimokon, 33, a medic; and Ka Jake, 26, a combatant, all members of the NPA’s Sub-Regional Command 2 (SRC2) under its North Central Mindanao Regional Command (NCMRC).
The NPA group is operating in the towns of Impasugong, Cabanglasan San Fernando, Quezon and the cities of Valencia and Malaybalay in Bukidnon.
Illana said the rebel surrenderers are natives belonging to the Higaonon tribe in the boundary of Bukidnon and Agusan del Sur.
In his statement, Brig. Gen. Edgardo de Leon, the commander of the 403rd Infantry Brigade based in Bukidnon, said “These surrenderers were enlightened by the government troopers.”
“I am again calling all agencies to deliver all services, especially in conflict-affected areas. A whole-of-nation approach is the best approach to end insurgency,” de Leon said.