A total of 396 New People’s Army (NPA) supporters from the different towns of Surigao del Norte surrendered to the 30th Infantry Battalion on July 4.
1Lt. Christian Elpedes, the acting Civil-Military Operations officer of the 30th IB, said the surrenderers are composed of 37 Sangay sa Partido Lokal (SPL) or local party members, 46 Militia ng Bayan (MB), 146 Underground Mass Organization (UGMO) members, and 167 mass supporters.
Elpedes said the mass surrender happened in two separate occasion–244 in Malimono town while the other 152 surrendered to the 30th IB in Sta Cruz, in Placer town.
The 244 NPA supporters underwent a debriefing seminar before taking their oath of allegiance in front of the Municipal Hall of Malimono presided by Mayor Wallace Senaca. Eleven assorted firearms were also surrendered by Militia ng Bayan to Senaca and Lt. Col. Allen Tomas on the said day.
Senaca said among the goals of the seminar are unity, understanding, peace, and progress.
“I wish that we would be more united, which will open more opportunities and equal rights for everybody,” he said. “Our government has no other goal but to provide basic services that the public really needs.”
Alias Gabriela, one of the surrenderees, enjoined the other rebels and fellow supporters to disengage from the NPA. “They are just using us to go on protest rallies in the urban areas and we should push out the NPAs from our village,” she said.
Meanwhile, 152 NPA supporters from Surigao City, Tagana-an, San Francisco and Sison towns surrendered to the 30th IB headquarters.
“The massive surrenders of NPA supporters were attributed to the combined efforts of the development programs of the AFP through its Community Support Program, creation of Peace and Development Zone to counter insurgency in Caraga, and the intensified campaign of local government units in leading their constituents to stop supporting the NPA, ” Lt. Col Allen Raymund C. Tomas, commanding officer of 30IB, said.
On his part, Col. Maurito L. Licudine, the 402nd Infantry Brigade, commander said that the continuous influx of surrenders in Surigao del Norte can be attributed to the influence of alias RD, who earlier surrendered to the troops of the 30th IB.
He said that RD reached out to his former comrades and made them understand the real situation, as well as the benefits that await them when they go back to the government.
“The peaceful resolution of conflict is the best way to address the pressing issues confronting us today. We are very elated because, not only the people are awakened, but leaders are openly taking a stand against the (NPAs),” Licudine said.
He said the “Whole of Nation Approach under EO70, which seeks to bring about concerted effort among stakeholders is gaining headway in our campaign to end local communist armed conflict.”