Two teenagers alleged to be members of the New People’s Army (NPA) surrendered to the 3rd Special Forces in Barangay Mararag in Marihatag, Surigao del Sur last Friday.
1Lt Krisjuper Andreo Punsalan, the Civil-Military Operations officer of the 3rd Special Forces Battalion, identified them only as alias John, 17, and Alias Dave, both members of Guerrilla Front 19, Northeastern Mindanao Regional Committee (NEMRC).
They brought with them one 5.56 M16A1 rifle, one M653 rifle, two long magazines with 86 rounds of ammunition.
Punsalan said the two were friends and residents of Barangay Mahaba in Marihatag.
According to their revelation, a certain Julian recruited them in the vicinity of Baliad in Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur. Curiosity led them to join the group but quickly regretted their decision as they experienced hunger and fear.
But they were promoted to become squad leaders from April to October 2019. They had a chance to escape when they are directed to beg for food in far-flung villages outside of their guerrilla base.
“Our decision to join was our biggest mistake. So, when they ordered us to get some food, we escaped and we don’t want to go back,” alias John said.
Last December 2019, the Marihatag Municipal Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (MTF-ELCAC) hosted a peace dialogue in Barangay Mahaba, spearheaded by Tesda-Surigao del Sur as the lead agency for Poverty Reduction, Employment and Livelihood Cluster.
Col. Allan D. Hambala, the 401st Infantry Brigade commander, urged members of the different task forces to be more active in delivering basic services to conflict-affected areas. He said government presence is crucial to weaken the influence of the New People’s Army.