THE EASTERN Mindanao Command (EastaMinCom) has recorded a series of surrenders from the New People’s Army in August alone.
Maj. Alex Mindalano, the chief of the Public Information Office of EastMinCom, said a total of 297 individuals left the communist armed group following the intensified focused military operations by the different units.
Eleven NPA rebels and four Militia ng Bayan members, led by a certain alias Joe, operating in Cabanglasan, Bukidnon surrendered to the 88th Infantry Battalion on Aug. 14, under the Joint Task Force Diamond in Maramag town.
The surrenderees revealed that they were involved in recent skirmishes against government forces in Cabanglasan for the past weeks.
Alias Joe also told the 88th IB during an interview that hunger and fear for their lives pushed them to surrender after seeing many of their colleagues die during the series of encounters.
The surrenderees also yielded 15 various firearms composed of M16A1; two Garand rifles; four Carbine M1 rifles; six homemade shotguns; a homemade revolver, and one .45 caliber pistol.
Meanwhile, 17 rebels and mass supporters surrendered on Aug. 19 in Barangay San Juan, Madrid, Surigao del Sur, due to the Community Support Program of the 36th Infantry Battalion. Thirteen of them were members of the Underground Mass Organization.
He said the failed promises of the NPA drove the former rebels “to abandon the armed struggle after seeing the sincere gesture of the government in addressing the issues and delivering public services to the communities, especially the marginalized sector, through the Community Support Program (CSP).”
In Agusan del Sur, seven NPAs and 17 Militia ng Bayan members pledged new allegiance to the government through the 26th Infantry Battalion during a ceremony in Barangay Zamora, Talacogon, Agusan del Sur.
The surrenderees also brought along with them 23 assorted firearms.
Twenty-four MB members and 126 mass supporters also simultaneously yielded to the 23rd Infantry Battalion in Sitio Macopa, Brgy. Poblacion, Agusan del Norte. The surrenderees handed over 15 assorted firearms and several explosive materials and ammunition.
A couple, identified as alias Milan and alias Cris, together with alias JR, said they surrendered out of concern for their safety and the future of their family.
During their surrender to the 29th Infantry Battalion on Aug. 14, 2020, in Kitcharao, Agusan del Norte, the former rebels turned over one Bushmaster rifle with one plastic and four short loaded magazines, AK-47 rifle with four loaded magazines, and an improvised explosive device.
A high-ranking NPA, identified as alias Ading, who had served the NPA for five years, also surrendered to the 25th Infantry Battalion on Saturday, Aug. 22, in Monkayo, Davao de Oro.
Alias Ading revealed that he was deceived to join the NPA when he was only 16-years-old, which is a clear violation of the provision of the International Humanitarian Law, which prohibits any armed group from recruiting a minor.
The 21-year-old surrenderee also brought along with him one M16 rifle, M653 rifle, and six magazines with 58 ammunitions, which he yielded to the troops.
Four rebels operating in Davao Oriental have also responded to the call of the government to abandon the armed struggle and its useless cause when they surrendered to the 701st Infantry Brigade on Aug. 18.
They also brought with them one .60 caliber LMG with 150 rounds of 7.62mm linked ammunition during their surrender. On Aug. 15, three Militia ng Bayan members operating in Kibawe, Bukidnon, surrendered through the efforts of the 16th Infantry Battalion.
The surrenderees brought along with them Springfield US 1917 model and two homemade shotguns.
The series of surrenders in Eastern Mindanao generally resulted in the recovery of 29 high-powered and 51 low-powered firearms, and three IEDs.
Meanwhile, Lt. Gen. Jose C. Faustino Jr., commander of Eastern Mindanao Command, pointed out that the series of surrender is a result of the former rebels’ loss of trust NPA. He said the surrenders proved that the NPA is already losing the trust of its members.
“Its pseudo-government proved to be a failure, particularly in delivering its promises both to its members and influenced communities while using them as a sacrificial lamb for their atrocities,” Faustino said.
The commander also called on the remaining NPA in Eastern Mindanao to surrender and avail of the assistance being offered by the government through the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP).
“To those who have already seen the hard reality in the terrorist group, this is the time for you to surrender. Heed the call of the government and abandon the armed struggle. You can assure that the government will support you in building a new life with your families,” he further added.
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