25 more CNTs surrender to 23rd IB in Agusan Norte

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BUENAVISTA, Agusan del Norte – The number of Communist New People’s Army Terrorist (CNT) members who surrender to the government continues to rise in the province of Agusan del Norte.

On August 23, 2020 (Sunday) twenty-five (25) more CNT members and mass supporters together with members of their allied organization surrendered to the 23rd Infantry Battalion and pledged loyalty to the government in a CPP-NPA Terrorist (CNTs) Mass Surrender and Withdrawal of Support of CNTs Mass supporter held at Barangay Aclan, Nasipit, Agusan del Norte. The twenty five (25) CNTs who surrendered were consist of fifteen (15) members of the Militia ng Bayan (MB), ten (10) mass supporters and three (3) of which are members of the Unyon ng Mag-uuma sa Agusan (UMA), an allied organization of the communist movement in the province.

As they withdrew their support to the communist movement, the former CNT members also vowed to support the different peace and development initiatives of the government that will be implemented in their communities.

The surrender of the twenty (25) former rebels (FR) and members of UGMO was the result of the efforts of the Community Support Program (CSP) of the 23rd IB and the Community Action (ComAct) Team of the Philippine National Police (PNP) with the support of the local government unit (LGU) of Nasipit and the local officials of Barangay Aclan. The CSP and ComAct teams are continuously working to clear and dismantle the remaining members of the Guerrilla Front (GF) 4A and destroy the Sentro de Grabidad (SDG) CAOCAO and Sub-Regional Sentro de Gabidad (SRSDG) SAGAY of the North Central Mindanao Regional Committee (NCMRC) of the CNT.

During the ceremony on Sunday, the twenty five (25) CNT members, supporters and allied organization members burned the flag of the CPP-NPA as they formally cut their ties to the said terrorist organization. They also condemned the continuing terroristic activities of the CNTs in communities and swore they would provide the military with information as a support to the over-all efforts to end the local communist armed conflict through the implementation of the Executive Order No. 70 of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Barangay Chairman Felipe Vicente of Aclan expressed gratitude to the 23IB and the PNP for the sacrifices they had made in convincing the former rebels to go back to their families and communities. He also recognized the courage of the former rebels especially on their decision of abandoning the CNT movement and pledged their loyalty to the government.

“The burning of CPP-NPA-NDF flag and the taking of pledge of loyalty and allegiance to the government is a symbolic representation that you already cut-off your support from the CNTs. Let us not just take it for granted. No other individual can help solve this crisis we are facing brought by the CNTs rather than ourselves. I am grateful for your commitment to supporting the government because through this, we can attain lasting peace. Let us prevent their presence from entering our sitios by coordinating with our government forces in order to solve the insurgency problem in our community. Let us stand for what we believe is right so that peace and unity will prevail to be benefited by all the local populace,” Felipe said.

Among those who surrendered was Alias Noni who regretted joining the CNTs. Noni said the leaders of the peasant organization, with links to the CNT, failed to give them the promises they made. “Kung nakahibalo lang mi sa una na mao ang tomong sa CPP-NPA ug sa UMA, wala mi unta nag-apil ani nga grupo. Nagpasalig sila nga tabangan me ug tagaan mig yuta. Kinsa bay dili ganahag yuta busa niapil mi nila. Pero, nabutang hinuon mi sa kasamok. Paningkamutan namo na mausab among kinabuhi pinaagi sa mga programa sa atong gobyerno,” Noni said.

Noni added: “Ang kamatuoran maoy maghatag ug kagawasan sa atong tanan. Among giangkon nga nasayop gyod me sa among nabuhat kay nahimo meng limbungan, tungod kay lagi nanginbuhi me sa kabukiran, nahadlok nga initan sa walhong grupo hangtod nga nasakmit me sa ilang kalihukan. Gumikan kay nanginabuhi me sa kabukiran, na among me sa mga sugo-sugo sa mga komonistang grupo, pahakuton meg bugas ug uban pang materyales padulong sa bukid hangtod nga naapil ko sa ilang grupo kay mahadlok ko patyon nila kung mo balibad ko. Karon kay nia nami sa atubangan ninyo, kinasing-kasing ug boluntaryo meng nagsurrender, walay nag tukmod o nag pugos namo. Nagtuo sab ko nga dako ang maitabang sa gobyerno sa amo labi na ang TESDA kay nadungog nako nga tabangan me nila. Ang unang tabang mao ang proteksyon ug wala nami gikalisangan karon. Kung wala ang otoridad, wala me kabalo asa me paingon, kamo ang dalan nga nahimo ming gawasnon ug nabati namo ang tinuod nga demokrasya. Mag tinabangay ta ug magdinasigay aron magpatigbabaw ang kahapsay ug kalinaw.”

Councilor Felipe Abigan, head of the Committee on Peace and Order of the Sangguniang Bayan (SB) of Nasipit town expressed gladness over the decision of the 25 former rebels and UGMO members to surrender to the government. “As the saying goes, ‘How happy to see the brethren to dwell together in unity.’ If we are united, there will also be peace and development in our community. Our government is always finding ways to provide programs, projects, and services for the Filipino people. We always look forward to unity in our country in order for us to reach the progress and development, but we cannot do it without your support,” Abisan said.

He added that one of the greatest problems the country is facing nowadays is on peace and order. The councilor emphasized that the absence of peace in communities hinders the development programs of the government. Investors, he added, will also shy away, as they will never risk pouring in their resources if the CNTs are present with extortion activities. “In other words, with the presence of the CNTs, there will be slow progress and development in our village. We have wasted many chances by supporting the reds. In fact, the Peace and Order problem will never be solved by supporting the CNTs. Our government offers great opportunities to help elevate the lives of everyone because the government is always willing to provide a sustainable livelihood to everyone. Let’s embrace the programs offered by our government for the development of our nation. We only want you to support and give your loyalty only in our constitution and our government alone,” Abigan said.

Meanwhile, Lt. Col. Julius Cesar C. Paulo, the acting commander of 23rd IB welcomed the 25 former rebels and UGMO members as he lauded their determination to change their lives for a better and brighter future.

“Your presence here signifies that you are no longer happy with the presence of the CNTs in your communities. In the last fifty-two (52) years of waging their futile ideology, no developments and peace were facilitated by the CNTs in your communities but hardships, hunger, and poverty. That’s a fact. While ordinary members suffer, including their families, the CNT leaders are the ones who benefited from the useless revolution they are waging. Compare your lives with the CNT leaders and you can see a big difference. It only means that this revolution has turned into a milking cow of the CNT leaders, especially those at the national level,” Paulo said.

He also asked the former rebels not to forget the day when they abandoned the CNT movement and pledged loyalty and allegiance to the government. “This day marks the great milestone for your barangays. I am certain that developmental projects and government services will now be easily facilitated in your barangays because of your withdrawal of support to the CNTs and to their affiliate organizations. The CNTs hindered and prevented the projects and programs of the government because they don’t want to see development in every community. They only want the people to suffer and remain poor so that they can use poverty and other social issues in their propagandas to recruit new members,” Paulo said.

He also expressed appreciation for the continued support of the LGU of Nasipit to the peace and development efforts of the 23rd IB and the PNP in the barangays.