Four members of the Pulang Bagani Command 4 (PBC 4), Southern Mindanao Regional Committee surrendered to the 60th Infantry Battalion on Saturday.
1Lt Amadeuz VJ Celestial, the Civil-Miltary Operations (CMO) officer of the 60th IB, said the four surrenderees were all members of the Umayamnon-Manobo tribe and residents of Agusan del Sur. They brought with them their NPA-issued firearms upon their surrender.
“While joining the CPP-NPA in different periods, all four rebel returnees claimed they have been coerced by their terrorist recruiters to join the group,” He said.
“All four also claimed that they started as mere couriers of the NPA’s foodstuff and other supplies before they were told to serve the movement full-time,” He added.
Alias Ago and alias Dalisay recalled that they both resisted at first. They pleaded with their recruiter, a Rene Catarata alias Tata, that they cannot leave their homes due to their ailing children. But they and their families were threatened to be killed.
Alias Leroy and alias Korme, on the other hand, were promised by their recruiters that their families will be financially supported while they serve the NPA.
Leroy, who has been with the NPA for over a year, and Korme, who was recruited only last May, both discovered from Dalisay (recruited on June) that their families have not received the promised financial support.
In fact, their families have already been asking the help of their local officials to find them.
On Friday, Tata ordered the four to fetch their new supplies when they accidentally ran into their barangay captain and tribal chief who convinced them to surrender.
They turned over one M1 Carbine, one 12-gauge shotgun, a homemade shotgun, and a caliber .357 revolver.
The 60th IB covers the municipalities of Loreto, Veruela, Sta. Josefa, and one barangay in La Paz, Agusan del Sur Province. The battalion has been actively working with the different local government units and other institutions to cut off community support for the NPA.
Its most recent gain is the surrender of over 30 CPP-NPA members whose revelations and insights have been instrumental to the effective implementation of the battalion’s community support program.
The Philippine Army recently conferred the “Proficient Status” under its Army Governance Pathway to the 60th IB and recognized it as a “Gold Trailblazer,” having received a very high score during the evaluation and validation.
In his statement, Lt. Col. Gilbert Ombos, 60th IB commander, said, “It’s not really about the recognition but more about genuinely transforming ourselves—our troops—to becoming an army that really cares for the people.