The 60th Infantry Battalion (60IB) based in the Davao del Norte town of Asuncion presented on Wednesday eight communist New People’s Army (NPA) surrenderers who brought with them several firearms.
Lt. Col. Ronaldo Sarmiento, 60IB commander, said the former rebels surrendered separately in the Agusan del Sur town of Loreto, the Davao de Oro town of Laak, and the Davao del Norte municipality of Kapalong.
They also surrendered eight high-powered firearms and three low-powered firearms, Sarmiento said, adding the surrenderers will be enrolled in the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (ECLIP) for rebel returnees.
“Today we stand witness to the extraordinary display of the power that our ‘whole-of-nation’ initiative can wield. To some, these eight surrenderees and 11 firearms surrendered may seem insignificant especially if we compare this to previous gains in military operations and if we put it up against the CPP-NPA’s propaganda that they remain a strong force to be reckoned with,” the Army official said, referring to the Communist Party of the Philippines–the NPA’s founding organization.
“But to the communities in our area of operations, our indigenous peoples, they who are the farthest from our reach and nearest to that of the enemy, this accomplishment calls for a celebration,” Sarmiento added.
Sarmiento said the surrender of the eight rebels proved that the CPP-NPA “is nothing but a terrorist group”.
“They say they are fighting for an ideology, or the oppressed masses, even when the truth is that the only thing they care about is money that comes with the persistence of the armed conflict they so deliberately nourish,” he said. “The people’s message to the enemy is clear. We don’t want you here.”
Kevin, one of the surrenderers, admitted he was forced to return to the folds of the law due to the NPA’s “weakening force.
“The areas that we are hiding are already covered by the military. Our forces are dwindling because our masses are also returning to the folds of the law,” Kevin said in the vernacular.
“Aside from that, a lot of ‘bagani’s’ (local tribal defender) was formed which made it more impossible for us to seek help from the masses,” he added.
Meanwhile, Davao del Norte Gov. Edwin Jubahib vowed to continue delivering basic services to the conflict-affected areas in the province.
During the presentation of the surrenderers, Jubahib also lauded government troops for their efforts in protecting hinterlands villages, especially the indigenous peoples (IPs), “from the deception and lies of the communist terrorists”.
“They (NPA) find it hard to maneuver to the hinterlands because the civilians trusted the government and will no longer entertain them. I will make sure that the continued delivery of services will be given to them,” the governor said.
For Davao de Oro Gov. Jayvee Tyron Uy who also attended the activity, the surrender of the former NPA rebels was a testament that “the whole of nation approach is effective,” referring to the national government’s strategy to address local communist conflicts.
“This is a very momentous event and I thanked our military troops for a job well done. We have seen the fruit of our efforts, especially in battling with insurgency,” he said.
Source: Philippines News Agency