CAMP CAPINPIN, Tanay, Rizal – Two NPAs surrendered to Quezon Province’s Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict or TF ELCAC after local peace engagements at San Narciso town on Thursday.

The peace negotiating team was composed of combined elements from the Army’s 85th Infantry Battalion, Quezon Provincial Police Office and the Local Government Unit.

According to Lieutenant Colonel Emmanuel Cabahug, Commanding Officer of 85IB, the negotiations which took place in Brgy White Cliff were anchored on the fact that “the former rebels grew tired of running away from our troops’ unrelenting focused military operations while suffering from severe hunger since the people are no longer willing to feed them due to scarcity brought about by the prevailing pandemic.”

He identified the surrenderers as alias Ramon and alias LG who “admitted their membership to the Southern Tagalog Regional Party Committee’s Platun Japson operating in Bondoc Peninsula.”

“The former rebels are now undergoing DSWD’s profiling and will subsequently undergo check-up and counselling by health professionals to ensure that they are free from Covid-19 infection and psychological trauma while undergoing the enrolment process to the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program, ” ended Lieutenant Colonel Cabahug.

Per military intelligence, the two former rebels were present during the April 1 encounter at So Puting Bato, Brgy White Cliff of San Narciso town wherein an NPA terrorist was killed and soldiers were able to recover two (2) firearms after the community reported the terrorists’ “offensive posturing”.

Brigadier General Norwyn Romeo Tolentino, Commander of 201st Brigade which has operational jurisdiction over Southern Quezon, said that “containing the spread of this deadly corona virus is not, and will never be, an excuse for us to not to pursue our aspiration of freeing our people from the clutches of communist terrorism.”

As of the moment, 2ID has facilitated the surrender of 601 former rebels who turned over 108 firearms to the government, a considerable portion of which returned to the folds of law during the NPA’s 50th anniversary last year as well as during their 51st anniversary last March 29.

Major General Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos Jr, Commander of the Philippine Army’s 2nd Infantry Division which covers Southern Tagalog, lauded his soldiers for “continuously performing our mandate to advocate peace while continously securing the people from the threats of terrorism amid the country’s fight against the deadly corona virus.”

On the other hand, he congratulated the former rebels “for choosing their families over the terrorists, for choosing peace over conflict and for choosing to be one with the Filipinos during the most challenging of time to humanity.”

According to him, the unprecedented number of NPA surrender in their area “is a testament to the fact that insurgency in Southern Tagalog is already on the verge of collapse primarily due to the loss of mass base support that they used to enjoy from our constituents in this part of the country.”

“Your soldiers’ dedication to accomplish our mission to defend our people from the communist terrorists will never waver as we commit ourselves to the urgent task of containing the spread of COVID-19,” ended Maj Gen Burgos, while reiterating his call upon the few remaining NPAs “to put down their weapons, return to mainstream society and help in solving the serious problems which the country is currently facing.”