Series of NPA leaders’ neutralization lead to mass surrender in southern tagalog

348

CAMP CAPINPIN, Tanay, Rizal – Forty eight NPA militias surrendered to soldiers belonging to the Philippine Army’s 2nd Infantry (Jungle Fighter) Division at San Jose, Occidental Mindoro on Saturday.

This was after the apprehension of Jaime Padilla alias Diego, one of the NPA leaders in Mindoro, at the posh Cardinal Santos Hospital in San Juan on Nov 26.

Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Arbolado, Commanding Officer of 4th Infantry Battalion which operates in the island provinces, said that “demoralization and fear of apprehension similar to the fate of Jaime Padilla was among the main reasons why they decided to return to the folds of law.”

He added that alias Diego’s arrest while enjoying high-end medical treatment became the “breaking point” of their commitment to the underground movement for “they realized the terrorists’ unfair treatment between the leaders and the ordinary fighters.”

Brigadier General Antonio R Lastimado, Commander of the 203rd Brigade which has operational jurisdiction over the area, said that “they will undergo assessment and once they qualify then will be enrolled in the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program or E-CLIP so that they may enjoy government grants which they could use to start living peaceful lives with their families.”

It can be recalled that 79 former rebels received Php 1.185 million worth of assistance from the Provincial Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict last November 26 during a ceremony at San Jose, Occidental Mindoro. Occidental Mindoro’s PTF ELCAC is under Gov Eduardo Gadiano and is considered as one of the most active and efficient in implementing the national government’s peace initiatives across Southern Tagalog.

Under the E-CLIP, a militia can received Php 15,000 cash assistance provided by the national government who decided to return to the folds of law and may also qualify for additional compensations in the form of educational, health services, employment and housing benefits among others.

BGen Lastimado added that “the proactive stance of Occidental Mindoro’s Task Force ELCAC is a testament of the government’s sincerity in its call for NPA terrorists to return to mainstream society so that peace, prosperity and development can finally be enjoyed by our constituents.”

For his part, Major General Arnulfo Marcelo B Burgos Jr, Commander of the Philippine Army’s 2nd Infantry Division which covers Southern Tagalog, expressed 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”.

He also cited that “the series of neutralization of hard core cadres in Southern Tagalog is a manifestation of the lingering demoralization among the enemy’s ranks as well as the reality that the NPAs no longer enjoy support from what used to be a solid mass base in the region.”

He ended his statement by assuring the people of Southern Tagalog that the government is on top of internal security situation in the region.

“I call on the few remaining NPA terrorists to put down their arms and peacefully return to the folds of law because sooner than later they will suffer the same fate either that of Armando Lazarte, who recently died, or Jaime Padilla who will be spending the rest of his life behind bars.”

Upon completion on the assessment stage, the qualified former rebels will undergo E-CLIP enrollment process wherein part of which is the DSWD’s needs assessment, profiling and counselling by health professionals to prepare them to their eventual return and reintegration to mainstream society.