BUTUAN CITY – Two teenage New People’s Army (NPA) combatants surrendered to the government and turned over high-power firearms and ammunition, the Philippine Army said Saturday.
In a statement, the Army’s 3rd Special Forces Battalion (3SFBn) said alias “John” and alias “Dave”, both of Matihatag town, Surigao del Sur, decided to leave the communist rebel movement because of the “miserable experiences” they had in the mountains.
In particular, the teenage surrenderers cited “hunger, exhaustion and the realization that the ideology they once followed” had become irrelevant, 3SFBn said.
3SFBn said the teenagers surrendered to the 7th Special Forces Company under the 3SFBn on Thursday and handed over an M-16 rifle, an M-653 rifle, and two long magazines with 86 rounds of ammunition.
The Army described “John” and “Dave” as “good buddies” who were both members of Guerrilla Front 19 (GF-19) of the NPA’s Northeastern Mindanao Regional Committee (NEMRC).
3SFBn considers the GF-19 as a “weakened” guerrilla unit.
According to the military, the teenage surrenderers bared that they were recruited by a certain alias “Julian” in Brgy. Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur, sometime April last year when they were both 17-years-old.
“As curious young individuals, they explored and joined the terrorist group but, in the end, regretted their decision because of miserable experiences. Starvation, exhaustion and the irrelevance of their existence as a terrorist group were factors for their surrender,” 3SFBn said.
3SFBn civil-military operations officer, 1st Lt. Krisjuper Andreo Punsalan, told Philippine News Agency that the effort of the Marihatag Municipal Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (MTF-ELCAC) helped the two young rebels decide to leave the NPA.
Punsalan said the local MTF-ELCAC hosted a peace dialogue in Barangay Mahaba last month through its Poverty Reduction, Employment, and Livelihood Cluster led by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority in Surigao del Sur.
During the dialogue, he said the local officials discussed the Enhanced Local Comprehensive Integration Program (E-CLIP) of the government to convince NPA rebels and supporters to return to the fold of the law.
Punsalan said the two NPA minors are now undergoing evaluation with the help of the Department of Social Welfare and Development for their enrolment to the E-CLIP program of the government.