CAMP CAPINPIN, Tanay, Rizal – Two more members of the NPA’s Southern Tagalog Regional Party Committee decided to return to the folds of law after a successful local peace negotiation with TF ELCAC.

A former NPA sniper together with a bomb expert were welcomed by the local government  officials of Lopez, Quezon during their presentation on Monday.

According to Lieutenant Colonel Emmanuel Cabahug, Commanding Officer of the 85th Infantry Battalion who was in charge of the negotiations, the surrender was the result of two simultaneous peace engagements held at Brgy Villahermosa of Lopez and Brgy Malupak of Lucban which are both towns under Quezon Province.

He identified the former rebels as “alias Roben, the supply officer and marksman of Platun Japson, and alias Jigs who was Platun Sol’s bomb-making expert” while saying that they are “keeping their true identity confidential to prevent possible retaliatory actions from their former comrades.”

The former rebels were then turned-over to the 59th Infantry Battalion which has operational jurisdiction over Lopez for coordination and proper endorsement to the LGU which will ensure the subsequent release of government grants due them.

Mayor Rachel A Ubana of the Municipality of Lopez assured the former rebels that the “government will always be ready to help NPA terrorists who will abandon their armed struggle and opt to live peacefully with their families as productive citizens of our great country.”

She added that “the Municipal Task Force ELCAC has an initiative called ‘Suporta sa Bagong Umaga’ or SBU project which is designed to provide a systematic process for former rebels to avail their benefits under the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program or E-CLIP.”

Lieutenant Colonel Edward Canlas, the Commanding Officer of 59th Infantry Battalion, said that they discovered during the course of their debriefing that “the former rebels’ primary reason to surrender was the fear of getting killed in combat due to our unrelenting combat operations which have been consistently tracking their locations and engaging their already depleted forces.”

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.

Brigadier General Norwyn Romeo Tolentino, Commander of 201st Brigade, thanked the leadership of Lopez town’s TF ELCAC for initiating measures to support the national government’s campaign on ending local communist armed conflict.

He added that “such action on the part of the local government is a clear indicator that communist insurgency which has been hampering our growth as a nation will, sooner than later, meet its inevitable end which will pave the way for the much coveted peace, prosperity and development that every Filipino deserves.”

Major General Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos Jr, Commander of the Philippine Army’s 2nd Infantry Division, lauded the soldiers and the local officials for being relentless in pursuing peace while helping our constituents survive the threat of Covid-19.

“I congratulate the former rebels for responding to the government’s call for national unity and reconciliation and for choosing to be part of the solution to the numerous problems that our country is facing,” added Maj Gen Burgos while calling upon the few remaining NPA terrorists “to lay down your arms and rejoin mainstream society while there’s still a chance because we will use all of our military might and exhaust all means to go after those who spoil peace and deny our people the prosperous life that they deserve.”

He ended his statement by reaffirming his soldier’s commitment in performing their mandate as advocates of peace, servants of the people and defenders of Southern Tagalog.

Per the military’s record, 2ID has already facilitated the surrender of 603 former rebels who turned over 108 firearms across Southern Tagalog since E-CLIP was launched in 2018.