KIDAPAWAN CITY – The regional unit of the New Peoples’ Army (NPA) in Southern Mindanao has denied the military’s allegation that they are “purging” members in North Cotabato who yield to the government.
Ka Dencio Madrigal, spokesman for the NPA’s Valentine Palamine Regional Operations Command – Far South Mindanao (VPROC-FSM), described as “utter fabrication” the claim of 19th IB commander Lt. Col. Elrick Paraso that the rebels are threatening to execute members who surrender.
Madrigal said the military is creating stories as a “ploy to hold the NPA accountable for the looming escalation of extra-judicial killings of activists and civilians.”
The 19th IB covers Kidapawan City and hinterland towns of Magpet, Antipas, Arakan, and President Rojas in North Cotabato.
A week ago, at least 16 former NPA rebels from Magpet town received cash assistance from the local government for leaving the armed struggle in March 2018.
The financial aid was distributed shortly after three suspected NPA rebels from Tugbok district in Davao City died in a clash with the 19th IB soldiers in Barangay Don Panaca, Magpet.
Paraso said more NPA guerillas in North Cotabato are willing to give up the fight in the mountains but are afraid of being executed.
The military said at least 40 NPA guerillas have yielded to the government since 2017. Many of them already received cash and other assistance through the government’s Comprehensive Livelihood Integration Program.