FIVE members of the New People's Army (NPA) laid down their arms and surrendered to government forces last week, citing disintegrating system of the underground movement and pitiful situation in the hinterland as reasons behind their move.
In a statement issued by the Eastern Mindanao Command on Monday, June 19, NPA rebels from different units, voluntarily surrendered to Alfa Company, 60th Infantry Battalion (IB) at Talaingod, Davao del Norte on Tuesday, June 13.
The rebel returnees, one female and four males are all Ata-Manobo residents of Talaingod, who initially submitted themselves to a local tribal chieftain in Barangay Sto. Niño and Barangay Palma Gil, Talaingod and were eventually turned over to authorities. They were personally received by 60th IB Commander Lieutenant Colonel Emmanuel Canilla and the troops.
The statement added that one of the surrenderees identified as alias "Tonyo" was operating under two guerilla fronts for a combined 22 years and left the group because his fellow guerillas were fighting each other due to the scarcity of the food in the upland.
The female rebel, alias "Anita," said she had wanted to surrender a long time ago when her eldest child got killed in a crossfire between her unit and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) but she failed to find chance to leave until on Tuesday because of her five-month old child, whom she consider to be the biggest factor for running away.
All the five surrenderees underwent interview, medical check-up and stress debriefing. They were also provided with food packs and clothes as initial assistance.
The municipal government of Talaingod committed to assist the immediate needs of the surrenderees.
Canilla, meanwhile, ensured them that all other available assistance and services will be processed accordingly, especially their availing of the Comprehensive Local Integration Program.
Last year, over 7,000,000 worth of assistance to former rebels have been released under Clip in Davao del Norte and Compostela Valley Province.
Canilla, meanwhile, commended the Indigenous Peoples leaders on their support to AFP's campaign against atrocities and encouraging the rebels to surrender.
Canilla encouraged them to continue helping the government by convincing other members of the NPA to surrender and benefit from various programs and opportunities being offered by President Rodrigo Duterte's administration. (JCR)
Published in the SunStar Davao newspaper on June 20, 2017.
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