ASUNCION, DDN – Following a series of encounters last Sunday (September 8) which killed two (2) CPP-NPA terrorists at the boundary hinterlands of Agusan Sur and Compostela Valley, a teenage CPP-NPA member was rescued by the tribal bagani group at Brgy El Katipunan, Laak, Compostela Valley Province and immediately brought to the satellite Balik-Loob Assistance Center of the 60th Infantry Battalion at Brgy. Binucayan, Loreto, Agusan del Sur on Tuesday.
Alias James was wandering alone in Brgy El Katipunan when the tribal bagani group of the said barangay found him. The bagani said they approached James because they weren’t familiar with him and because the latter looked shaken. Upon checking on James, they saw that he had a wound in his left hand which they soon realized was sustained from a gunshot.
James told the tribal bagani that he was a member of the Weakened Guerilla Front 3 (WGF3) under the Sub-regional Committee 4 of the CPP-NPA’s Southern Mindanao Regional Committee who was encountered by the joint operating troops of the 60th Infantry Battalion and the 25th Infantry Battalion on Sunday. He also confirmed that they were the same terrorist group the tribal bagani of Sta. Emilia, Laak, CVP fought against last August 26.
Upon initial interview, James revealed that he had been on the run since their last encounter with the government troops. He had been walking aimlessly for almost three days without proper sleep or meals until he realized that his only chance at survival is if he voluntarily surrendered to the authorities.
Accordingly, James fled the encounter site with his M16 rifle and later decided that he would surrender it to the authorities. James, however, had to hide it somewhere so he could find help without causing alarm.
James later helped the authorities retrieve the said high-powered firearm.
James admitted that he was first terrified when he learned that the group helping him were members of the tribal bagani of El Katipunan since he could still recall how another tribal group attacked them in Sta. Emilia just several weeks back.
But he was surprised when the bagani told him that they would instead help him surrender to the authorities without incident. He said he got more convinced that he was already safe when—once inside the 60IB Balik-Loob Assistance Center—the first thing the soldier did was ask him if he had already eaten. The soldier also treated his wound and gave him fresh clothes.
James said he does not regret surrendering to the authorities but instead felt sorry for his terrorist comrades who continue to risk their lives for a lost cause.
Aside from the military, local defense groups such as the tribal bagani, CAFGU active auxiliaries, barangay police and civilian volunteer organizations have been actively patrolling the vicinities of the affected locale for any signs of the fleeing communist terrorist’s presence.
Meanwhile, around 400 families have evacuated from the different affected barangays of Loreto and Veruela, both of Agusan Sur, and Laak of Comval Province and their respective local government units have been providing for their needs since the beginning of the hostilities.
“This incident, while gruesome to some extent, gave us an opportunity to show that our government means business. Under our legal mandate, we will continue to pursue and destroy those who insist on terrorizing our communities. But for those who wish to surrender so they can rejoin their families and start leading peaceful and productive lives, we assure them that they will be welcomed with open arms,” Lt. Col. Gilbert Ombos, Commander of the 60th Infantry Battalion said.
After a formal validation process, James may be qualified to receive benefits under the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (ECLIP). He may also receive cash remuneration for his surrendered firearm.