A TOP New People's Army (NPA) officer in Caraga Region surrendered on Sunday, April 2, due to "hardship and disillusionment" and the belief that the Duterte administration is their best chance to have a peaceful life.

Estelito Camino Jr., known as Ka Puma, commanding officer of the Sub-Region Sentro de Grabidad of the North Eastern Mindanao Regional Committee of the NPA operating on the tri-boundaries of Surigao del Sur and Agusan provinces, surrendered to the 401st Brigade.

In an email sent to SunStar Davao, Camino said he wants to be an example to his sub-commanders to pursue with their surrender plan after he has proven that no maltreatment is committed by government forces to those who surrender contrary to the stories told to them by their older comrades.

Camino was with the NPA for 14 years where he earned several warrants of arrest, including those for murder cases for the atrocities they committed.

He said being with the NPAs left him no chance of being with his wife and three kids, who are also hard-up after the NPAs failed to give their promised monthly support to his family.

The former NPA official also said that “most of his comrades are already thinking of laying down their arms at an opportune time as they accordingly believe that the Duterte administration is their best chance to have a peaceful life.”

As top ranking NPA, he accordingly saw “how corruption is in the NPA by citing top ranking leaders pocketing extorted money from the businesses and farmers.”

Colonel Cristobal Zaragoza of the 401st Infantry Brigade also credited the surrender of Camino to the relentless pressure exerted by the 402nd Brigade as well as the Surigao and Agusan Police to get him.

Zaragoza said Camino is willing to face his criminal cases and hopes that his surrender will mitigate his legal cases.

Major General Benjamin Madrigal of the 4th Infantry Division congratulated the two Brigades, the Caraga Police and the Intelligence Units of the Army.

He instructed them to prepare for the influx of surrenders as Camino has followers in the NPAs in the region.