NINETEEN members of the New People’s Army (NPA) surrendered to the soldiers on Monday following the continued operations of the Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom) against the communist insurgents.
The military identified them as Eloy Bontolan alias Eloy, vice political officer; Lita Ehem alias Maya, secretariat for medical; Emil Bontolan alias Admiral, team leader of Platoon Basil; Merlyn Bontolan alias Aya, member of Platoon Andoy; Angeline Balite alias Angeline, member of Platoon Andoy; Anggil Banlas alias Dante, political instructor of Platoon Basil; Jeysin Tibalao alias JM, team leader of Platoon Basil; Manuel Mantikinon alias Kardo, team leader of Platoon Andoy; Piyot Ehem alias Piyot; Diboy Mantoaw alias Talolong; Aiza Bontolan alias Sky; Dante Tumagsa alias Dante; and Raya Tumagsa alias Raya.
Among the returnees were six Milisyang Bayan members, and they are Boni Bontolan alias Boni, Gambil Bontolan alias Gambil, Ambog Landahay alias Ambog, Jimmy Mantikinon alias Jemmy, Boboy Anlagpang alias Boboy, and Gibang Gamot alias Gibang.
Maj. Alex Mindalano, the EastMinCom spokesperson, said the former rebels were all under the Sub-Regional Guerilla Unit, Sub-Regional Committee 5, Southern Mindanao Regional Committee (SRGU, SRC5, SMRC).
Mindalano said they surrendered to the combined forces of the 10th Infantry Division’s (10th ID) 1003rd Infantry Brigade, 56th Infantry Battalion (56th IB), 89th IB, 27th IB, 3rd IB, and intelligence units in Sitio Pongpong, Barangay Dagohoy, Davao del Norte.
The surrenderees also handed six M16 rifles and an M14 rifle to the soldiers.
Davao del Norte Governor Edwin Jubahib and Talaingod Municipal Mayor Junnie Libayao witnessed the surrender of the communist rebels, which was facilitated by the troops under the 1003rd Brigade.
Accordingly, the 19 rebels confessed to government forces that hunger and fatigue, along with losing their leaders as a result of the military operations, affected their morale.
Meanwhile, Billy Berana Jr. alias Borjack/Simeon, secretary of the Guerrilla Front Alip, Regional Operations Command, Regional Sentro de Grabidad, Far South Mindanao Region, also surrendered to the troops of the 1002nd Brigade on Nov. 9.
He cited the loss of financial support, the collapse of the mass base, and weak leadership that prompted him to surrender.
EastMinCom chief Lt. Gen. Greg T. Almerol praised the troops for the accomplishment, saying that they are a true source of pride for the whole military organization. He also thanked the Davao del Norte government officials for their proactive support for EastMinCom’s campaign for peace.
“These non-stop accomplishments speak volumes of your relentless efforts to subdue the communist terrorists. I am optimistic that we are communicating to the masses that, indeed, we are doing our excellent job in protecting the people from all forms of threats,” the EastMinCom commander said.
Almerol also pointed out that the series of surrenders is a manifestation of the growing distrust among the communist rebels for their leaders. He reiterated that this is also a strong indication of the crumbling organization that has already been abandoned by the communities it exploited for so long.
The EastMinCom commander also called on the remaining rebels to surrender and avail of the assistance being offered by the government through the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP).
“Before it’s too late, heed the call of the government and abandon the armed struggle. Now is the best time to surrender peacefully so that you can be reunited with your families and friends in time for the Christmas season. Rest assured that EastMinCom will be your partner as you embrace a new life under the government’s care,” Almerol further said.
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