ZAMBOANGA

19 NPA rebels surrender in Sultan Kudarat

NINETEEN members of the New People’s Army (NPA) surrendered to government authorities in the province of Sultan Kudarat, officials said Saturday, March 30.

Colonel Efren Baluyot, Army’s 1st Mechanized Infantry Brigade commander, said the NPA rebels surrendered Friday, March 29, as the communist group was celebrating its 50th founding anniversary.

Baluyot said the 19 NPA rebels have turned over 13 high-powered firearms, explosives, and ammunition.

They belong to different communist fronts operating in the provinces of Cotabato, Davao del Sur, Sultan Kudarat, and South Cotabato, according to Baluyot.

The NPA surrenderers were received by the local government of Sultan Kudarat, and officials of the Sultan Kudarat Provincial Police Office, and Army’s 33rd and 39th Infantry Battalions

“Their surrender on the very day of the NPA’s supposed founding anniversary is a very clear indication that its ranks continue to decline due to the relentless efforts of the troops on the ground to hunt them down while providing space for them to peacefully surrender,” Baluyot said.

Major General Cirilito Sobejana, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division and Joint Task Force Central, lauded the troops for their efforts that led to the surrender of the 19 NPA rebels.

“The surrender of these communist terrorists shows the localized peace negotiations, led by the provincial government of Sultan Kudarat, are very effective. This is also a clear manifestation that those who were duped by the NPA in joining their ranks have realized the government cares for them and that they are welcome to join the peace-loving people of Sultan Kudarat,” Sobejana said.

He said the returnees will receive livelihood assistance, payment for the surrendered firearms, as well as housing, through the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-clip).

Lieutenant General Arnel Dela Vega, Western Mindanao Command chief, said they support all peaceful mechanisms that bridge synergy and build hopes for “our brothers and sisters, who were deceived by communist terrorists, to rebuild their lives.”

“We sustain all efforts and work with our peace partners to address insurgency and to encourage remaining rebels to surrender and trust the government,” Dela Vega added.


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