MANOLO FORTICH, BUKIDNON-Seventeen members of the New People’s Army (NPA) who brought with them 11 high powered firearms surrendered to the 1st Special Forces Battalion under 403rd Brigade of the 4th Infantry Division in Barangay Mamuyag, Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon on Tuesday morning (May 4).
They took oath of returning back to the folds of the law.
Lieutenant Colonel Vercisio San Jose, commanding officer of 1st Special Forces Battalion said the 17 now called former rebels (FRs) belong to the CPP-NPA’s Sub-Regional Committee 4 (SRC) of the North Central Mindanao Regional Committee (NCMRC) under its Secretary Dionisio Micabalo alias Muling.
“Our relentless military operations against this NPA unit and continuous negotiations forced them to surrender bringing with them eleven high-powered firearms,” San Jose said.
Prior to their surrender on May 1, they signified their intention to give up through their relatives. “One reason they surrender because of a series of the major encounters of 1st Special Forces Battalion in Bukidnon,” San Jose said. “These former rebels decided to surrender because first they are afraid that they will die, second they are already in hunger in the mountains and they do not want to commit further criminal activities,” he added.
Under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program of the government the former rebels will receive cash benefits, livelihood assistance, firearms remuneration and housing projects from the government. Meantime, they will stay at the halfway house in Impasugong Bukidnon and they may decide to stay with us if they are afraid to go to their houses, San Jose said.
“We will also ensure that they are safe when returning home,” he added.
The 17 FRs received cash assistance and a sack of rice from the province of Bukidnon through Governor Jose Maria R. Zubiri Jr.
The Department of Social and Welfare Development (DSWD) also gives cash and food supply as part of the assistance under the E-CLIP program being implemented by the Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (TF-ELCAC).
Brigadier General Ferdinand Barandon, the commander of 403rd Infantry brigade and Major General Andres Centino, commander of 4th Infantry Division, Philippine Army both said their surrender will greatly affect the NPA’s strength in Bukidnon.
“We will continue to press the fight against the CTGs in our area of operations first to pressure them to surrender or decimate their forces through armed engagement if necessary,” Centino said.
In his message during the ceremony, Zubiri said he was happy of their surrender since most of them were teenagers. “Nalipay ko na gibiyaan na ninyo ang bukid aron munaog mo ug mubalik sa sabakan sa gobyerno ( I am happy you left the mountains to go down and return to government),” Zubiri said.