FOUR communist guerrillas surrendered in Loreto, Agusan del Sur, and Laak, Davao de Oro over the weekend.
1Lt Amadeuz Vj Celestial, the civil-military operations officer of the 60th Infantry Battalion, said three of the rebel-returnees were from guerilla Front 3, Sub-regional Committee 4, Southern Mindanao Regional Committee. They also surrendered their firearms.
Alias Keno, who has been a member of NPA for over three years, says they have been waiting to surrender since February following the intensive conduct of combat operations in the boundary areas of Agusan del Sur and Bukidnon.
However, they couldn’t find any opportunity until now because their commanders have been strictly monitoring the fighters for any sign of disloyalty.
Alias Chico said that they were already cornered and were struggling to source supplies because of the pandemic.
“Most of our comrades were already low in spirit due to hunger, fatigue, and fear that the military’s operations will catch up on us anytime,” he said.
On the other hand, alias Noli said their decision to surrender was bolstered when they saw the development in the community in La Paz, Agusan del Sur. His son and other relatives also laid down their arms earlier.
The entire barangay already declared the CPP-NPA and all its legal fronts as persona non-grata since June this year.
Keno surrendered his .45 caliber pistol, Chico his .38 caliber revolver; and Noli his M1 Carbine rifle.
Meanwhile, alias Mar surrendered to the 60IB amid the ongoing pursuit operations against a splinter unit of GF 3 that recently attacked a local tribal defense group in Laak, Davao De Oro. Mar claimed that he was tired of the corruption and infighting in the organization.
Mar’s group abducted a local in Laak whom they forced to become a guide in going to their target area. But he heard their leader say that they would kill the resident after meeting their objective. This made him decide to run to save both himself and the abducted local.
Mar surrendered his M16 rifle.
Lt. Col. Ronaldo Sarmiento, commander of the 60IB, said that while the combat operations have been effective, the success of the government’s anti-insurgency efforts still hinges on the social impact of its communist support programs.
In the past few months, the Army has recorded 410 surrenderees who turned over 78 assorted firearms in identified communist strongholds in Agusan del Sur, Davao de Oro, and Davao del Norte.
“Couple this with the outpouring of government programs and projects in these same localities and we render the CPP-NPA and their deceitful propaganda useless and without effect,” he said.
As of this date, four barangays were beneficiaries of P30 million worth of projects in programs under the Whole-of-Nation initiatives being undertaken by 60IB with various government agencies, local government units, and people’s organizations. This excludes other infrastructure projects, such as the construction of farm-to-market roads, which will physically connect these vulnerable areas to town centers.
All the rebel-returnees will be endorsed to their respective LGUs of Loreto and La Paz in Agusan del Sur, and to Laak in Davao de Oro for immediate assistance. They will also be later enrolled in the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (ECLIP) of the national government.