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BUENAVISTA, Agusan del Norte – Four members of the New People’s Army surrendered and were warmly welcomed by the troopers of 23rd Infantry “Masigasig” Battalion at their headquarters in Barangay Alubihid, Buenavista, Agusan del Norte on Thursday, August 13.

The four NPAs decided to abandon the dying cause of the communist movement in the country and chose to go back to their families and communities.

The four NPAs were identified as @BENON, 34, team leader ABE of Squad Dos; @SIMON/@JUDGE, 27, team leader ABE Squad; @AMALIA, 21, member of Squad Uno; and @HAPPY, 18, member of Squad Dos, all under the Sangay sa Yunit Pang propaganda (SYP), KINGDOM of Guerilla Front (GF) 4A, North Central Mindanao Regional Committee (NCMRC) of the Communist-Terrorists.

In his testimony during the interview by the 23rd IB, Alias Benon said they were brainwashed by the sweet propaganda of the NPAs and the promises they made such as the benefits for the families of the fighters who will join the armed revolution to topple the government.

“Their promises turned false as families suffered while we were away fighting for their ideology which we eventually realized as wrong,” Benon said.

He added that what they were fighting for inside the communist movement was also misplaced as the NPAs sowed fear among communities in the areas where they operate.

“Our leaders forced us to extort money and food from ordinary civilians. If they fail to comply we were ordered to do harassments,” Benon revealed.

He also pointed out that communities in Agusan del Sur and nearby towns are already tired of the atrocities of the NPAs, while some of their comrades already left the movement and returned to their families and communities for good.

“We learned that some of our companions are now with their families as they received enough support from the government after they surrendered. Upon learning about their situation, we decided to leave the movement. We could no longer withstand the hardships we encounter every day,” Benon added.

He also shared their realization on the seriousness of the government in extending support and services even in far-flung areas amidst the fight to contain the spread of the dreaded coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

“In the communities, we actually saw how the government worked by bringing relief goods and provided basic health services to ordinary people. Yet, despite what we witnessed, the communist leaders continue to deny such reality by instilling in our minds that the government failed to help the people in the middle of this pandemic,” Benon said.

Meanwhile, Lt. Col. Julius Cesar C. Paulo, the acting commander of 23rd IB led the troopers in welcoming Benon and his group.

“These former NPA members surrendered after realizing that they are a lost cause and failed ideology. They learned that the government is sincere in its efforts towards achieving peace and development that contradicts the sweet talks of their communist leaders,” Paulo said.

He added that the experiences of Benon and his companions must be shared and pondered upon by those who are being targeted for recruitment by the NPAs, especially the youth.

“The NPAs assign good speakers that can convince people, especially our students, to join their ranks. But behind their honeyed words are the grim realities in the lives of fighters, the sufferings they endure, and the anguishes of their families and children left in their homes,” Paulo said.

He thanked Benon and his group for the decision they made and assured them of the full support of the government under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (ECLIP).

“To those who continue to remain inside the dark realm of the communist movement, act now as the government is always open to accept you,” Paulo said.

He added that the government will also use its force to prevent terrorism and to ensure the safety of civilians and their communities.

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