CABADBARAN CITY, Agusan del Norte- Two regular fighters of the New People’s Army (NPA) finally decided to surrender to Lt. Col. Isagani O. Criste, the Commanding officer of the 29th Infantry “Matatag” Battalion on March 29, 2020, at Barangay del Pilar, Cabadbaran City, Agusan del Norte. Their surrender coincided with the date of the NPA’s Anniversary.

The said NPA fighters were identified as alias Rocky, 35 years old and a resident of Kicharao, Agusan del Norte. Alias Rocky is a former member of Platoon “BANAKON”, Sentro de Grabedad (SDG) 16, of the Guerilla Front Committee (GFC) 16 of the North Eastern Mindanao Regional Command (NEMRC). The other was alias Bibong, 40 years old and a resident of Santiago, Agusan del Norte. Alias Bibong is a former member of Sandatahang Yunit Pampropaganda (SYP) 16A, Guerilla Front (GF) 16A of North Eastern Mindanao Regional Command (NEMRC).

The surrenderees brought with them one KG-9 pistol, one magazine with 15 rounds ammunition, one homemade shotgun and subversive documents with high intelligence value.

Alias Rocky emotionally said in his message, “Life with the NPA was never easy but still I was enticed to join them. I was deceived in joining them, having been told that they would provide for my family in exchange for my allegiance. After three years of being with them, I realized that what they told me were lies. They never cared for my family nor did they care for their troops. Many times I’ve experienced a high fever and became severely ill, but they never gave me any medicine nor allowed me to take a rest. One time, I found out that my mother who was already in her senior years got sick too, but I could not do anything to help her nor could my siblings. I feel like I failed as a son and as a brother in supporting my family since our father has died already. These experiences and misgivings pierced my heart, and so I decided to surrender already so I can still take care of my old ill mother and help my siblings before it was too late.”

According to alias Bibong, “As a father to my children, all I want is to be able to protect and provide for my family. And that’s how they enticed me. They told me that if I join them, I would have a firearm to use to protect myself and my family. They also said that they would provide help for us. After three years of being with and trusting them, I realized that I wasn’t protecting my family but I was putting them in danger. As a father, I should guide my children to what is right especially now that they are very young. I should also have taken care of my wife more so now that she is pregnant. I should have been there to assist her. But it seems that I’ve given much of my time to the NPA and slowly neglected my priority which is my family. And so I decided to surrender so I could still guide my children to light and be able to take care of their mother. They are all very young to lose a father if I continued with the NPA. I still want to spend time with them and make up for having failed them when I was with the NPA”

Lt. Col. Isagani O. Criste said in his statement, “As a man just like the two who surrendered, I feel your deep distress and regret for the wasted years which you spent serving the NPA in exchange for the moments you could have spent with your family. I know your intentions were good and that you only desire that which is best for your family. I’m happy now that you have found your way back before it was too late.”

“And to all the NPAs who are still in the mountains, I know most of your plans have already been frustrated, even your anniversary celebration. And I know also that most of you are tired already, fighting for an ideology which may be vague and unclear to you. Please listen to us. The promises made to you were pure lies and will do no good to you or your family. Abandon it. Your fellow fighters have surrendered already, evidence that there is truly a way out of there. So, leave that evil organization, and surrender now. The government is waiting for you to come back and is extending its arms to support you in your desire for a better life with your family,” Criste added. –