GENERAL SANTOS CITY — “Distressed and in low morale” following the capture of their leader in Sarangani province last week, a member of the New People’s Army (NPA) surrendered over the weekend to government troops in South Cotabato province.
1Lt. Efren James Halawig, civil-military operations officer of the Army’s 27th Infantry Battalion (27IB), said Monday the rebel, identified as alias “Darwin,” yielded at their base on Sunday in Barangay Kablon, Tupi town.
Halawig said the returnee, who brought along two M16 Armalite rifles, was formerly under the Platoon Samsung, Sub-Regional Committee-Musa of the NPA’s Guerilla Front 73-Far South Mindanao Regional Committee (FSMR).
Halawig said alias “Darwin,” who hails from Lake Sebu town, South Cotabato, bared that he surrendered due to hunger and fear of death.
Members of his former unit are reportedly in low morale after their leader, Nicanor Pason alias “Kumander Costan,” was wounded and arrested in joint police and military operation in Maitum, Sarangani last Thursday.
“They are now facing a big crisis because of Pason’s arrest,” Halawig said, citing the former rebel’s accounts.
Pason, the secretary of the NPA’s Front 73, was arrested at a checkpoint in Barangay Kalaong, Maitum along with Bernard Prespetero, the spokesperson of the FSMR, and two other rebels identified as Josephine Carvajal Sumagaysay and Reynaldo Beringel Loyola.
Pason has seven standing warrants of arrest, one of them for murder issued by Regional Trial Court Branch 38 in Alabel, Sarangani.
Halawig said Pason’s group was behind a string of atrocities, including the burning of heavy equipment and public utility vehicles, and has terrorized communities in parts of Sarangani, Sultan Kudarat, and South Cotabato provinces.
Lt. Col. Jones Otida, 27IB commander, said they will process the surrenderer for inclusion into the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program or E-CLIP, which provides livelihood assistance and other socio-economic interventions to returning rebels.
Otida credited the alias “Darwin’s” surrender to the successful implementation of interventions in line with Executive Order 70, which aims to address the communist insurgency through concerted socio-economic and development programs of government agencies and local government units.
Since July, over a dozen NPA rebels in the area have surrendered to the 27IB and the Police Regional Office-12.
“The snowballing of surrenderers mark the productive implementation of EO 70 and the Task Force-Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict,” Otida added. (PNA)