2 NPA rebels surrender in Nueva Ecija

Two members of the New People's Army (NPA) have decided to return to the fold of the law as a result of the implementation of the whole-of-nation approach in ending local communist armed conflict.

Lt. Col. Reandrew P. Rubio, commander of the 91st Infantry Sinagtala Battalion of the Philippine Army based in Barangay Calabuanan here, said on Wednesday that the two communist rebels voluntarily surrendered on Monday to the government troops in Barangay Antipolo, Bongabon, Nueva Ecija.

Rubio identified the NPA surrenderers as "Ka Nova", 52, a squad leader from Platoon Dos of Komiteng Larangang Gerilya (KLG) Sierra Madre operating in Aurora and Nueva Ecija; and "Ka Rommel", 39, radioman of Platoon 3 of NPA Bulacan.

He said the successful operation is through the joint efforts of the Philippine Army and the Philippine National Police (PNP).

They are now at the 91IB Headquarters in Barangay Calabuanan for the routine interviews and documentation, Rubio said, noting that the surrender is the effect of Executive Order (EO) No. 70, which was signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on Dec. 4, 2018.

EO 70 directs the adoption of a national peace framework and institutionalizing the whole-of-nation approach in ending local communist armed conflict.

He said the Philippine Army will continue to work hand-in-hand with the PNP and other government agencies to ensure the safe and fair treatment of all local terrorists who are thinking of putting their trust, once more, in the government.

He encouraged other active NPA rebels to surrender to the authorities and avail the services and programs being offered by the government, particularly the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

Maj. Gen. Lenard Agustin, commander of the Army's 7th Infantry (Kaugnay) Division, under which the 91IB operates, said that all line units of the division will continue to welcome surrenderers and assist them in receiving government benefits and starting a new life.

The 7ID was among the Army divisions last year that recorded the highest number of surrenderers, with 1,003 communist rebels and their supporters.

Col. Andrew D. Costelo, brigade commander of the Army's 703rd, said terrorist groups now feel threatened by the joint efforts of the government's security forces, resulting in their decision to surrender.

More rebels are now convinced to surrender due to the increasing awareness of the government benefits that they could avail upon their return to the fold of the law, and the hope of being able to start anew with their families and live in peace, Costelo said.

Meanwhile, the two NPA surrenderers told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) in an exclusive interview that they decided to return to mainstream society due to the difficulties they faced while in the movement such as lack of food in the mountains and the internal problems within the NPA organization.

Source: Philippines News Agency