BUENAVISTA, Agusan del Norte – The head of the Sangay ng Partido sa Lokalidad (SPL) and Milisya ng Bayan (MB) in Agusan del Norte surrendered to the troops of the 23rd Infantry (Masigasig) Battalion on September 16, 2020, at around 09:50 in the evening.
The MB head identified as “RICO”, 28, was operating in Barangay Durian, Las Nieves town under the Guerrilla Front (GF) 4A of the North Central Mindanao Regional Committee (NCMRC) of the New People’s Army (NPA). Alias Rico voluntarily surrendered to Lt. Col. Julius Cesar C. Paulo, the commander of 23rd IB at the battalion headquarters in Jamboree Site, Purok 6, Barangay Alubihid, Buenavista, Agusan del Norte.
He also turned over to the 23rd IB one (1) Honda XRM 125 Motorcycle, one (1) ACER Laptop, one (1) Baofeng Radio, two (2) assorted Andriod phones, seven (7) assorted keypad phones, two (2) gun tuckers and assorted receipts. He also revealed that the Honda motorcycle is owned by Khim Agad Mapoy @PATRICK, the Secretary of GF4A, NCMRC.
During the interview, “Rico” said that being an MB of the Communist NPA Terrorist (CNT), he was tasked to keep the gears, equipment, firearms and personal belongings of the CNT members inside his residence. He added that keeping such belongings had risked and put into danger the lives of his family members. He admitted of living in fear as he is already known in their community as a supporter and the keeper of CNT belongings.
It can be recalled that the residents and the members of the council in Barangay Durian already declared the CPP-NPA-NDF and all its allied organizations as persona non grata last November 6, 2019. The declaration showed the will of the people to get rid of the presence of the CNTs in their community. On December 4, 2019, a young NPA combatant died during an encounter between the 23rd IB troopers and the CNTs in Sitio San Jose, Durian. Series of peace consultations and dialogues were also facilitated in the said barangay where the residents and the council requested the Army for the establishment of a patrol base in their community to neutralize the CNT members. Through the joint efforts of the 23rd IB and the members of the barangay council, “Rico” finally realized that he was not on the right path and voluntarily surrendered to the Army. “Rico” also admitted that he is already tired of giving support to the CNTs and he also wanted to clear his name.
“Nibalik ko sa sabakan sa balaod kay gusto nako hinluan akong pangalan kay gibantog na gyud ko sa among lugar nga usa ka full time NPA, pero ang tinuod, usa lang ko ka MB busa wala ko mahadlok nga mo dangop sa kasundaluhan. Gawas pa ana, gikapoy na ko sulod sa halos tulo (3) ka tuig nga nagpaulipon nako sa walhong grupo. Ako ang ilang sugoon sa pagpalusot sa ilang bugas ug mga supplies ug mangitag ka plastaran nila nga kampo, Ang nakapait pa kay sa sinako nga bugas nga akong ihatod sa kampo, maayo nalang ug mahatagan ko ug lima (5) ka salmon. Ila pang ibilin ug itago ang ilang mga gamit s among balay ug mahadlok ko nga masakpan sa otoridad,” “Rico” said.
Lt. Col. Paulo was grateful for “Rico’s” realization which led to his decision to return to the folds of the law.
“I am glad that the SPL/CO MB in Barangay Durian now returned to the folds of the law and I am grateful for his decision to surrender because through this, the CNT activities will also be neutralized in their community,” Paulo said.
He emphasized that the surrender of “Rico” indicates that the government is winning the war without the use of arms and violence.
“We don’t want the residents of Barangay Durian to once again experience armed conflict because it only brought senseless deaths, miseries and destroyed the future of the people. Hence, we will ensure his personal safety and well-being as he returns to the folds of the law,” Paulo said.
The 23rd IB commander is also seeing the decline of the atrocities of the CNTs in the area, such as extortion and recruitment because of the loss of their trusted MB leader.