CAMP CAPINPIN, Tanay, Rizal – Twenty two communist terrorists belonging to the NPA’s Guerilla Front Cesar decided to return to the folds of law and turned over 10 firearms after negotiations with combined elements of the Army’s 2nd Infantry (Jungle Fighter) Division and Police Regional Office 4A at General Nakar, Quezon on Wednesday.
Per military intelligence, the former rebels used to operate in the Provinces of Quezon, Laguna and Rizal, some of whom were directly involved in terrorist extortion activities perpetrated against the people.
Colonel Alex Rillera, Commander of 202nd Brigade which has operational jurisdiction over the area, said that “the influx of surrenders can be attributed to the ‘whole-of-nation approach’ strategy which the government has adapted to end local communist armed
He added that “since the operationalization of RTF ELCAC 4A, we have already assisted hundreds of former rebels who have signified their intention to put down their arms and return to mainstream society in order to enjoy peaceful lives with their families.”
Most of the former NPAs are now enrolled in the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program or E-CLIP which provides financial and other forms of assistance amounting to almost Php700,000 per rebel returnee to help them start a normal life.
In a statement, BGen Arnulfo Marcelo B Burgos Jr, the Commander of the 2nd Infantry Division, expressed his optimism that the “mass surrender signals the eventual and inevitable collapse of insurgency in Rizal and Quezon similar to what happened in Batangas and Laguna provinces.”
It can be recalled that early this year, the Joint AFP-PNP Intelligence Coordinating Committee declared GF Honda, the NPA unit that used to operate in Batangas and Cavite, as dismantled. This was followed by the 2ID’s declarations of Cavite, Marinduque, Romblon and Laguna as insurgency free areas.
BGen Burgos extended his soldiers’ gratitude to the peace-loving people of CALABARZON “whose unconditional trust and unparalleled support paved the way for the relative peace and massive economic development” that are taking place in the region.
He ended his statement by reassuring the public that “your soldiers, and the members of RTF ELCAC 4A, will remain to be active partners of local government units and different national agencies in addressing all prevailing social issues so that we may finally end the five decades of internal conflict and allow our country to regain its glory as well as to reclaim our rightful place in international community.”
Aside from the 10 firearms, the former rebels yielded ammunition and other war materiel including explosives that they use as landlines which is contrary to numerous internationally accepted conventions in the conduct of war.
For his part, Lt Gen Gilbert I Gapay, Commander of Southern Luzon Command, lauded the professionalism and interoperability of the combined police and military personnel in attaining their common objective of achieving peace across the country.
He added that because of this unprecedented degree of cooperation and trust, “we are in a position to end local communist armed conflict and finally allow progress and prosperity to be enjoyed by the very people whom we have sworn to serve.”
He ended his statement by encouraging the few remaining NPAs in Southern Tagalog “to lay down your arms, return to mainstream society, enjoy the benefits provided under the government’s E-CLIP and, together, let us move forward as a nation.”
A separate presentation of government grants will be scheduled by the AFP and the PNP, something which known left-leaning groups and personalities have blatantly opposed because such undertakings led to unprecedented number of surrenders from CALABARZON.
The former rebels are now undergoing custodial debriefing. It will be followed by DSWD’s needs assessment, profiling and counselling by health professionals.