Amidst Taal Volcano Eruption, Soldiers Facilitate the Surrender of Eleven NPAs from Quezon Province

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CAMP CAPINPIN, Tanay, Rizal – Eleven NPAs who used to operate in Bondoc Peninsula surrendered to the government’s local negotiating team under RTF ELCAC 4A on Wednesday in Calauag, Quezon.

Such development came amidst the military’s massive disaster relief and rescue operations in Batangas due to the explosion of Taal Volcano on Sunday.

Colonel Norwyn Romeo Tolentino, Commander of the 201st Infantry Brigade which has operational jurisdiction over the area, said that “the former rebels chose to surrender after realizing the lies being propagated by the NPA terrorists against the government as well as the massive demoralization among the enemy’s ranks caused by the series of death and arrest of their hardcore and notorious leaders late last year.”

He added that the surrenders, who came from the conflict affected areas which are also the identified and designated convergence areas of the government’s whole of nation approach to defeat insurgency, will be enrolled in the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program through which they will be receiving grants that they can use in reintegrating to mainstream society.

Col Tolentino ended his statement by expressing confidence that “through the government’s concerted effort at all levels in the implementation of the President’s directive to end local communist armed conflict, we will be able to address the prevailing social issues thereby uprooting the causes of insurgency in the the countryside”.

Per the military’s assessment, significant gains have been recorded since the implementation of President Duterte’s Executive Order Number 70 as primary strategy in attaining peace and ensuring development across the country.

According to Major General Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos Jr, Commander of the Philippine Army’s 2nd Infantry Division, although his soldiers are currently focused in ensuring the safety of the people in the areas affected by the explosion of Taal Volcano, they are still actively performing their mandate of defeating the communist terrorists in Southern Tagalog.

“Fighting in two fronts — insurgency and disaster — is a welcome challenge for us because it is an opportunity for us to showcase our readiness, commitment and dedication to serve the Filipino people and secure this part of our land whoever, whatever, whenever or wherever the threat may be,” said MGen Burgos.

He lauded the former rebels “for choosing their families over the terrorists, for choosing peace over conflict and for choosing to become productive members of society rather than being part of the problem” while calling on the few remaining NPAs in CALABARZON “to give up their arms and join us in extending help to our constituents who are in need during these trying times in the history of our country.”

He ended his statement by assuring the people that every soldier is, and will always be, ready to respond to any eventuality.

As of the moment, 65 officers, 816 soldiers and 319 reservists with 99 assorted vehicles are currently performing various humanitarian missions for the more than 82,000 evacuees in 204 locations across Batangas and Cavite provinces.

The massive deployment of forces began an hour after the volcano’s explosion on Sunday that resulted to zero disaster-related casualty.

The two recorded deaths were caused by cardiac arrest.