BISLIG CITY, Surigao del Sur- Camp Jaime N Ferrer Sr, Brgy Maharlika, Bislig City (Stn) – Fear, hunger and hopelessness drove some 20 members of the Communist- Terrorist CPP- NPA to surrender to the troops of the 75th Infantry (Marauder) Battalion in Bislig City, Surigao del Sur, June 16.
Reports reaching the Philippine Army’s 4th Infantry Division in Cagayan de Oro say that the recent batch of surrenders composed of two (2) regular NPA, two Sangay Partido sa Lokalidad (SPL), 11 Milisya ng Bayan (MB) and five Underground Mass Organization (UGMO) members were erstwhile members of Weakened Guerilla Front (WGF) 14 of the North Eastern Mindanao Regional Committee (NEMRC) of the CPP-NPA.
The military identified the surrenders by their NPA aliases as Tapul, James, RR, Bata, Mer, Maegan, Roy, Dodong, Ba-ang, Kaba-kaba, Botyok, Palakata, Pino, Jerry, Esidro, Estong, Rachel, Jun, Joebert, and George.
They brought with them 29 assorted firearms and war materiel including four CZ858 rifles with four magazines, one M16A1 rifle with three loaded magazines, one M14 rifle with one loaded magazine, two AK47 rifles with loaded magazines, four caliber .45 pistols, two caliber .38 revolver pistols, caliber .30 (Improvised), three caliber .22 with ten rounds ammunitions and 11 improvised shotguns. They also surrendered assorted materiel used for manufacturing Improvised Explosive Device (IED) such as blasting caps and electrical wires.
Lt. Col. Jaime Datuin, the Commander of 75th IB said the CPP-NPA can no longer stop their members from abandoning them because more and more are realizing the futility of their struggle. “According to our agents, their members are feeling the intensity of military and police operations, forcing them to go into hiding for days with little or no food at all. Many of them are sick and need immediate medical attention”, Datuin said.
Alyas Tapul, 46, a regular member of Platoon 2, GF14, NEMRC said: “Dako akong pasalamat sa Ginoo nga ako nakasibat uban ang akong mga kauban nga mga membro gikan sa sabakan sa kumonistang organisasyon kung diin kami na ilad sa propaganda sa NPA. Sila misaad kanamu nga mulowas sa pag daog-daog sa gobyerno sa mga kabos nga mag-uuma ug supportahan nila among pamilya sa sakto nga kantidad nga ilang gi saad. Apan kahadlok ug kagutom ang among naangkon ug way pulos nga pakig away sa mga sundalo. Dako akong pasalamat nga pinaagi sa kasundalohan sa 75IB kami nahibalik sa sabakan sa atong goberno (I am very thankful to God almighty because together with my comrades, we were able to escape from the clutches of the CPP-NPA. Their leaders promised us when we were being recruited that they will alleviate the sufferings of farmers like me. They said they will stop government oppression and provide support to our families. But none of these ever happened and all we got are hunger and fear. I am grateful to 75IB for bringing us back to the folds of the law.),” Tapul said.
Datuin said the former CPP-NPA terrorists made the right choice. “Mabuti na lang sumuko sila nang maayos sapagkat naiwasan natin ang pagdanak ng dugo. Ngayon, pwede na ulit silang magsimula ng panibagong buhay kapiling ang kanilang mga pamilya,” he said.
The surrenders will be undergoing debriefing as part of their enrolment to the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP). Once completed, they would be able to avail various financial and livelihood assistance from the national and local government.
Col. Allan Hambala who heads the Army’s 401st Infantry Brigade said the surrender is a huge blow to the CPP-NPA group operating in Caraga and the entire Mindanao. “They are on the brink of defeat that is why I am encouraging the remaining armed members of the CPP-NPA to heed the national government’s call for peace. Do not wait until our forces catch up with you on the jungles because we will be relentless in our campaign. My advice is to lay down your arms and surrender peacefully- that is your only choice”, Hambala warned.
Meanwhile, Hambala lauded his troops for facilitating the surrender and preventing bloodshed. He noted that in Surigao del Sur alone, 395 former CPP-NPA members and supporters have already surrendered since January this year.
MGEN Franco Nemesio M Gacal, the 4th Infantry Division Commander expressed confidence that more active CPP-NPA members will surrender in the coming months because of community support programs and enhanced delivery of social services especially in conflict-affected areas. “Let us not wait for another decade before we put an end to the local communist armed conflict. Let us work together towards lasting peace and sustainable development,” he said.