THE Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) 10th Infantry Division (ID) recorded a total of 18 New People’s Army (NPA) rebels who returned to the folds of the law since the lifting of the unilateral ceasefire last February 1.

In Thursday’s, February 16, AFP-Philippine National Police (PNP) press forum, 10th ID spokesperson Rhyan Batchar said this reflects their relentless efforts to contain the lawless armed group in line with their mandate to maintain peace and protect the community against illegal activities perpetrated by the rebels.

According to him, the NPA rebels who surrendered complained on failed promises of their recruiters and their hardships in the mountains. The rebel returnees also feared to engage in a firefight with the soldiers who are conducting legitimate operations in line with the all-out war declaration.

“The NPA (surrenderees) revealed that the hardship and starvation brought about by the relentless combat operation of the military encouraged them to return to the folds of the law,” Batchar said.

There were three NPA members carrying one high-powered rifle who turned themselves in on Tuesday, February 14, namely Alyas Alas, 29, team leader of NPA Guerilla Front 71 who voluntarily submitted himself and his grenade rifle to 73rd Infantry Batallion (IB) in Malita, Davao Occidental; Alyas Aldrin, 26, and Alyas Omar, 46, both member of NPA Pulang Bagani Batallion Command who surrendered to the 60th Infantry Battalion.

Earlier, the military forces captured eight NPA members in Alabel, Sarangani during an hour-long clash and the filing of frustrated murder and illegal possession of firearms are already in the process.

The eight members of Guerilla Front 71 who were captured by 73rd IB are under the custody of the PNP Alabel namely Simeon Salda, 28; Jun Moda, 20; Claude Palbe, 21; Garzon Palbe, 31; Rene Ompao, 24; Sabelo Colano, 20; Nonoy Sanama and Morelo Sanama.

Batchar said the arrested rebels were new recruits who have been members for about seven months since the lifting of the unilateral ceasefire. The length of the rebels’ service manifests the massive recruitment activity of the left while the ceasefire was still in effect.

Alyas Kaloy, who surrendered his grenade rifle, is now in the process of enrollment to the government’s incentives for returnees.

To date, a total of 12 high-powered firearms were recovered from the NPA as well as 14 explosive devices were recovered in nine encounters under 10th ID area.

Batchar said the rebels are also victims of the propaganda of their leaders. Thus, they urge rebels to surrender.

“Ayaw namin na dumating sa punto na mas mahirapan sila kaya habang may pagkakataon pa eh bumalik nalang sila (We don’t want it to get to the point that it will be difficult for them, so as much as possible, they should just return) and we can offer help,” he said.

There is a Comprehensive Local Integration Program that awaits a returnee including P15,000 cash assistance that will be given immediately to them and additional P50,000 livelihood assistance for a total of P65,000 that they would receive.

If they will bring their rifles or firearms there is corresponding firearms remuneration depending on the caliber of the firearms that they will surrender.